The Haywood Burns Fellowships are designed to encourage students to work in the NLG’s tradition of “people’s lawyering.” The program exists to help students apply their talents and skills to find creative ways to use the law to advance justice. Burns Fellowships provoke law students to question traditional notions of how one must practice law and to provide a summer experience that will enrich and challenge them. Donate to support the next generation of people’s lawyers here!
Deadline for 2018 Fellowship Applications is Monday January 8, 2018. Email NLG Director of Research and Education Traci Yoder at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the fellowship or the application process.
The Haywood Burns Memorial Fellowship for Social and Economic Justice has its roots in the National Lawyers Guild’s established tradition of providing legal, political, and educational support to the important progressive movements of the day.
In late 1972, New York State indicted 62 prisoners who survived the police assault at the Attica Correctional Facility. None of the police officers was indicted despite detailed reports of excessive force. In 1973, the Summer Projects Committee was formed in part to respond to this situation. The committee sent students to assist with the defense of the Attica Brothers, to support the growing farmworker struggles in California, and to support Native American treaty rights in the Pacific Northwest.
Over the years, the Summer Projects program has expanded to place hundreds of students with public interest organizations working to protect and further the civil rights of oppressed people in the United States. Although providing legal work under the direction of their attorney-organizers is important, the primary mission of the summer projects is to strengthen each student’s long-term commitment to promote justice and equality. Fellows have worked with groups to provide legal, political, and educational support on a wide variety of issues, including voting rights; union democracy; workplace health and safety; the death penalty and prison reform; lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans rights; defense of protesters from police harassment and criminal sanctions; and international human rights.
In 1996 the program was renamed after Haywood Burns, long-time radical lawyer, law professor, and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, whose life and work created a legend to inspire generations to come.
2017 Haywood Burns Fellows
Steven DeCaprio is an Arab-American who moved to Oakland, California 20 years ago from the deep South to find community and pursue his passion for music. In 2000 he became homeless during the Dot Com Boom. After struggling with years of homelessness, Steven DeCaprio founded Land Action to create a framework to address homelessness and displacement through mutual aid among others struggling with housing insecurity. He is an expert in occupying, improving, and repurposing abandoned properties. Steven completed the Law Office Study Program and passed the California State Bar Exam thus fulfilling all the educational requirements to practice law in California. However, the California State Bar denied his application citing his former homelessness and housing advocacy as grounds to determine that he lacked sufficient “moral character.” Steven is a co-founder of the Association of Legal Apprentices which was formed to create a framework for mutual aid supporting apprentices complete the Law Office Study Program, advocate for alumni within the legal field, and make the Law Office Study Program more accessible. Currently, he is being charged with conspiracy by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in response to his efforts assisting homeless community members occupy abandoned properties. He is the principle author of the Emergency Tenant Protection Ordinance—citizen sponsored legislation currently being considered by the City of Oakland which addresses issues of displacement of marginalized people in the wake of the Ghost Ship fire. Steven was featured in the film “Shelter: a Squatumentary,” has been featured in numerous publications, and was named one of 12 Visionaries of 2012 by the Utne Reader. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, Steven will be working with the Legal Apprentice Committee of SF NLG Chapter.
Elizabeth Horton is a 2L at Boston College Law School. She is the Co-President of BCLS’ NLG chapter and is also an active board member of the Law Students Association, Middle Eastern Students Association, and If/When/How. She graduated from Harvard College in 2013. For her Senior Project, Elizabeth extensively researched and designed a study evaluating the impact of implicit bias on jury decision-making. During undergrad, Elizabeth was also the Co-Director of a peer mental health counseling service. After college, Elizabeth was awarded the Augustus Clifford Tower Fellowship and earned her Master’s degree in France at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). While working on her Master’s degree, Elizabeth presented original research at the Humanitarian Innovation Conference held at Oxford University. In addition, she had the opportunity to intern at the State Department and in the UN Security Counsel with the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect. During her 1L summer, Elizabeth worked in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Special Proceedings Division. This Spring, she externed at Committee for Public Counsel Services working with clients as they navigated the criminal justice system. Elizabeth is interested in reforming the criminal justice system through the creation of alternatives to incarceration and increasing access to social services. This summer, Elizabeth will be a Martin Luther King, Jr. Intern at Legal Aid of North Carolina and work in a medical-legal partnership. She would like to thank the National Lawyers Guild and the Haywood Burns Fellowship for all their support.
Morgan Moone is an anticipatory 2017 graduate of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and a 2014 University of Dayton graduate. She also studied in Nicosia, Cyprus and Ifrane, Morocco during her undergraduate career. Primarily focused on human rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, Morgan has spent extensive time studying how conflict impacts vulnerable communities, particularly displaced persons. Morgan is an Assistant Editor on the Eyes on the International Criminal Court Law Journal, a member of the Maritime Law Journal, and a student practitioner under Rule XX of the Louisiana Code in Loyola’s Children’s Rights Law Clinic. Morgan has worked with Amnesty International’s Individuals and Communities at Risk division as a summer intern, spent a summer working with U.S. Human Rights Network with support and funding from Loyola’s Gillis Long Poverty Law Center, and remotely interned with Human Rights Watch in their National Security division as a legal researcher for the December 2015 Publication No More Excuses. Morgan spent the summer of 2016 with Hebron Rehabilitation Committee in Hebron, Palestine, where she drafted UN Complaints on human rights violations in Hebron, submitted grant proposals for restoration and renovation projects to combat Hebron’s economic decline, and provided tours of the bifurcated Old City of Hebron. With the support of the Haywood Burns Fellowship and Refugee Solidarity Network, Morgan will be working with Refugee Rights Turkey, providing legal services to refugees and working to promote a rights-based response to humanitarian crises.
Kevin Rafael Varela (Rafael) is a second-year student at CUNY School of Law. He currently serves as President of the Latin American Law Student Association at CUNY, as a Fellow for the CUNY Law Center for Latina and Latino Rights and Equality (CLORE), and as a member of the CUNY Law Review. Prior to law school, Rafael worked as a Board of Immigration Appeals representative for the deportation defense unit at Brooklyn Defender Services and as a legal assistant at Make the Road New York, an immigrants’ rights community based organization. Rafael studied Political Science, Latin American studies, and Women’s Studies at the University of Central Florida. He lives in Queens with his two cats Dennis and Sneakers. This coming summer, he will work with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on matters concerning economic justice, political participation, education reform, and criminal justice.
Hunter Lee Weeks is a 26-year-old freelance paralegal who got his start with the National Lawyers Guild in December 2011 while he was incarcerated. He quickly became skilled at law and began his career as a jailhouse lawyer in April 2013. He received his Certificate of Paralegal Studies in February 2015; is now released, and is pursuing a paralegal career in the community at large. He can be contacted at 719-422-3499. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, Hunter will be writing a report on the current state of prison law reform.
Daniel Fryer is a first year law student at the University of Michigan Law School and a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a William Fontaine Fellow. Prior to beginning law school, Daniel served as a researcher for the Philadelphia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) while working on his graduate coursework. His academic interests include criminal law, legal philosophy, and racial justice. Daniel currently works as a pro bono volunteer for the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, Daniel will work as a law clerk with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. He will be assisting with appellate representation of indigent people on death row, advocacy on behalf of individuals sentenced to life without parole as juveniles, investigations of inhumane and abusive conditions in Alabama prison facilities, and research and outreach aimed at encouraging awareness of the links between America’s racial history and the contemporary crisis of mass incarceration.
Martha Laura Garcia (Laura) is a 2L at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She is active in the Immigrants’ Rights’ Coalition, the Latino Law Student Association, and the local NLG chapter. She is a volunteer at Loyola’s student-led suspension advocacy group, SUFEO!, which provides legal assistance to students facing suspension in Chicago area public schools. She is on the planning committee of the annual Norman Amaker Midwest Public Interest Law and Social Justice Retreat, hosted by Loyola law students. She has worked at the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project (IMLAP) where she advocated for seasonal migrant farm workers’ rights all over the state. This expanded her focus from immigration law to labor and employment law and public benefits. She is currently externing at the Community Activism Law Alliance, a legal aid organization that focuses on community building and combining advocacy with activism. There she works with the immigrant and sex worker communities through the organization’s various clinics. Before coming to law school Laura was living on Bainbridge Island, Washington, working at a magazine, and enjoying the great outdoors. She majored in Political Science and International Relations at Saint Louis University’s Madrid campus. She has an online degree in Journalism, which she got while living in Tijuana, Mexico and experienced the advantages and disadvantages of living in a border city. This summer, Laura will return to IMLAP and continue to advocate for farm workers’ rights in Illinois.
Joelle Eliza M. Lingat graduated with Honors from Oberlin College in 2014 with majors in Environmental Studies and Comparative American Studies, a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, and a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies. Currently, they are a 2L at CUNY School of Law where they are a part of the CUNY NLG chapter, the Labor Coalition for Workers Rights and Economic Justice, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Black Law Students Association, and the Defenders seminar. They hope to one day become a people’s lawyer, working at the intersection of immigration, gender, and labor. Outside of law school, they are the National Secretary General of Anakbayan-USA, a national youth and student organization working to educate, organize, and mobilize the community to address important issues that affect Filipinos in the U.S. and in order to achieve genuine freedom and democracy in the Philippines. They have led numerous relief and exposure trips back home to the Philippines and has facilitated workshops and presentations at campuses across the U.S. including the NLG 2016 Convention, Rebellious Lawyering Conference, and the Left Forum. Joelle will spend the summer working with Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Employment Opportunity Project providing representation to those seeking to remove legal barriers to employment. When not in studying or taking it to the streets, they enjoy comic books, slow jams, and the breeze of the Pacific Ocean.
Anya Morgan is a 2L at the University of Texas School of Law. She attended Wesleyan University as an undergraduate, where she majored in English and French, and wrote her honors thesis on zombies and queer futurity. At UT Law, Anya is a co-president of NLG-TX, secretary of Texas Law Fellowships, president of the Law Yoga Club, a student attorney with the Domestic Violence Clinic, and a volunteer with the Trans Name and Gender Marker Project. In her spare time, Anya enjoys lamenting the fact that she has joined so many student organizations, and reading in her backyard. With the support of the Haywood Burns Fellowship, Anya will be spending her summer at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in NYC, helping incarcerated transgender people obtain life-sustaining services as part of SRLP’s Prisoner Justice Project. Anya’s dream is to bring trans-specific programming to a legal aid organization in the Pacific Northwest.
Crystal Peters is a native New Yorker born to West Indian parents. She is a second-year public interest scholar at Brooklyn Law School, where she chairs the student chapter of the NLG and is a founding member of R.I.S.E (Racial Injustice Socially Eradicated). Her academic pursuits primarily focus on the intersection of criminal justice and civil rights. As an undergraduate at Binghamton University, she double majored in PPL (Philosophy, Politics, & Law) and Sociology, with a concentration in Immigration Studies. During her 1L summer, she served as a legislative intern for Representative Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9), drafting detailed memoranda on the impact of foreclosures on people of color and addressing racial disparities in the credit market. She remains active in the Guild through the Parole Preparation Project, an all-volunteer collaboration working in solidarity with incarcerated individuals to prepare for interviews with the NYS Board of Parole. She also interns at the National Police Accountability Project, currently organizing the NPAP Conference: Representing Children and Youth in Police Misconduct Cases. With the support of the Haywood Burns Fellowship, she will participate in the Center for Popular Democracy— Internship Program in Community Lawyering and Policy Innovation.
Mark Shervington is a New York City native and a former NLG-NYC Parole Preparation Project participant. During his 29-year prison odyssey he earned Paralegal and Legal Research Specialist certifications. As an experienced jailhouse lawyer, Mark was instrumental in, among other things, several successful challenges to the New York State Parole Board’s policies, practices, and determinations denying parole to deserving candidates. With the assistance of the NLG-NYC Parole Preparation Project, Mark was finally granted parole in 2015 at his tenth parole release interview. He currently serves as a member of the NLG Parole Preparation Project’s Advisory board and will be working with the project this spring as a Haywood Burns Fellow.
2015 Haywood Burns Fellows
Azadeh Erfani is a second-year public interest scholar at Villanova School of Law. Before law school, Azadeh graduated from Bryn Mawr College and majored in Philosophy and Spanish. After obtaining a Masters degree in Philosophy, she completed a year of AmeriCorps service where she coordinated adult education and citizenship workshops. Azadeh subsequently provided direct legal services and outreach to low-income immigrants at the National Immigrant Justice Center. She ultimately became a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative and represented clients before the Department of Homeland Security. At Villanova, Azadeh has been an active board member of the NLG student chapter and the president of the Immigration Law Association. She has also volunteered for the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic, the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee, and Emigrant Services. In Philadelphiashe has interned with HIAS Pennsylvania and Friends of Farmworkers. This summer, Azadeh will intern at the Legal Action Center of the American Immigration Council. Azadeh’s work will include holding the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) accountable for abuse of migrants at the southwest border, to establish a right to government-appointed counsel for children facing deportation, and/or to end family detention for recently arrived women and children seeking asylum.
Tyler Ingraham is a 2L at Western New England University School of Law. He is currently a co-organizer for the2015 National Lawyers Guild Northeast Regional Conference and was a writer for the National Lawyers Guild’s report 2014 on Zones for Economic Development and Employment in Honduras. Tyler has worked on collaborative projects with the Honduras Solidarity Network, EarthRights International, and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti through Lauren Carasik of the Western New England School of Law’s Human Rights Clinic. Tyler supports Springfield No One Leaves / Nadie Se Mude whenever he has a chance because they beat back the bank attack. Tyler looks forward to working with the Honduras Solidarity Network in Honduras in the winter of 2016, even though it means he will see less of his wonderful, surly, social-working partner Rachael.
Sochie Nnaemeka is a New Yorker born to Nigerian parents. She is currently a 1L at Georgetown University Law Center. As an undergraduate at Yale University, Sochie double majored in History and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. In 2008, she took time off from school to serve as a field organizer for the Obama campaign in Toledo, Ohio. Since graduating, she has spent the past five years talking to and organizing hundreds of students, clergy, workers, elected officials and the unemployed around issues of racial, social and economic justice. As a volunteer organizer in Miami, she organized within the casino industry to transform workplaces through unionization. As a political and community organizer with UNITE HERE, and a founding organizer of New Haven Rising, a community-based membership organization, she trained organizers, ran political campaigns for champions of social change, and built teams of residents committed to collective struggle. She successfully led a campaign securing a community benefits agreement between an underserved neighborhood in New Haven and a new developer that included living wage jobs for local residents and financial contributions to youth programming. Sochie plans to the study the law to explore the ways in which it can better protect, serve, and embolden working people. She looks forward to interning this summer at the Center for Popular Democracy in New York.
2014 Haywood Burns Fellows
Michelle Lewin is a first-year student at the CUNY School of Law. Born and raised in Atlanta, Michelle has been active in prison abolition and restorative justice work since 2005. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, Michelle began working for the Fortune Society in their Alternatives to Incarceration program, advocating for clients facing long-term felony convictions. Michelle joined the NLG in the fall of 2013, and has been working on the Parole Preparation Project with the Mass Incarceration Committee ever since. Outside of law school, Michelle is actively involved in her Brooklyn women’s group, and teaches workshops on consensus decision-making and collaborative leadership skills. As a NLG fellow, she will spend her summer with Common Law, a n anti-foreclosure organization in Queens, NY, committed to community lawyering and political and popular education.
Sallie (Zhiyan) Lin is a 1L at Santa Clara Law. She is active in the National Lawyers Guild on campus and will be the chapter co-president next school year. Sallie is also a part of her school’s Pro Bono Program and volunteers at the San Mateo County Superior Court Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Legal Support Services Division. As an immigrant from China, she cares deeply about underserved populations, such as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, undocumented and working class immigrants. Sallie is determined to pursue a career dedicated to the advancement of civil and human rights. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, she will be working at the International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) in Beijing. The organization seeks to guarantee all citizens in developing countries the right to competent legal representation, the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to a fair trial. In her spare time, Sallie enjoys cooking, attending seminars, and being politically involved.
Michelle Amelia Newman is a second-year law student at Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL). At NUSL, Michelle has been active in several student groups, including NLG and LALSA, has organized panels on fracking and human rights issues. She has also worked as a volunteer translator for Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), which provides legal services to unaccompanied children caught in US deportation proceedings, and for the Rich Coast Project, a NUSL alumna-founded project which works on land use and environmental issues in Costa Rica. Before law school, Michelle worked at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on litigation, transactional, and policy projects in fair housing and fair lending, community development, and environmental justice. She also lived for a time in Santiago, Chile, volunteering with the nonprofit VE Global and implementing educational programming in social service institutions that house at-risk youth. With the support of the Haywood Burns Fellowship, Michelle will be working in Quito, Ecuador with lead plaintiffs’ attorney Pablo Farjado Mendoza and the Amazon Defense Coalition (Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia) on the Chevron-Texaco litigation, one of the biggest environmental cases ever brought against a multinational corporation. Read more about the case here: chevrontoxico.com.
Nadin Said is a second-year law student at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. She is a California Native and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. During her first summer in law school, Nadin worked as a Summer Associate for Dorsey and Whitney, LLP where she drafted memorandums regarding corporate and patent law, filed 501(c)(3) tax forms, and researched and assisted with contract litigations. This semester, she is clerking for a Judge in the 18th Judicial District in Colorado. Nadin is a Contributor to The Race to the Bottom Blog and was elected as the Managing Editor for the 2014-2015 academic year. She serves as a Staff Editor and the Technical Editor to the Sports and Entertainment Law Journal. She also founded the very first Middle Eastern and North African Law Society at the University of Denver. She serves on the board of the Latino Law Student Association, Black Law Student Association, and the National Women Law Students’ Organization. This summer, Nadin will be working on Panacagos v. Towery, a case involving the United States military violating activists’ constitutional rights.
Amanda Schemkes is a 2L at Seattle University School of Law. Amanda came to the decision to attend law school because of her work as an animal rights activist. Through her experiences, she saw the need for greater legal resources for animal rights, environmental, and other activists who are targets of State repression because of their uncompromising dedication to protecting the earth and its inhabitants. In addition to representing activists, Amanda wants to work to proactively strengthen social justice movements through educating activists about their rights, doing legal research, and protecting themselves and their campaigns from corporate and government interference. She is excited to be working with the Civil Liberties Defense this summer because of all the amazing work they do to support and work with activist communities.
2013 Haywood Burns Fellows
Catherine Ady-Bell is a 2L at Western New England University School of Law. She volunteered as a legal observer with the Toronto-based Movement Defense Committee when the G20 summit came to town, and did legal support work on behalf of arrestees. While in law school, Catherine works as a volunteer organizer with Springfield No One Leaves, an anti-foreclosure housing rights group. She is an active member of her school’s NLG chapter, serving as treasurer. Catherine also serves on the board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children. In her spare time she chases her toddler around the house and hangs out with her partner. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, Catherine will work with Springfield No One Leaves on its Turn On The Lights campaign.
Ariel Johnson is a 2L at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Born and raised in Chicago, she is active in the community working with various organizations that serve underrepresented youth. Ariel is also active in her law school as a writer for the Education Law and Policy Newsletter and community service chair for the Black Law Students Association. She plans to dedicate her time to working to improve the education system in this state, especially for our underprivileged youth in the city. Thus far, she has had the opportunity to extern in federal court, intern with Chicago Public Schools, and work on special education and juvenile justice initiatives at Equip for Equality. This summer, she will spend her time working with the Legal Assistance Foundation in their child and family law division.
Patrick Tyrrell is a first-year student at the City University of New York School of Law. A native Kansan, he has organized with animal rights, anti-war, and prison abolition campaigns since the early 2000s. After graduating from Marlboro College in 2008, he moved to Chicago where he worked predominantly with housing and immigration organizations. During the 2012 NATO summit, he joined the NLG Chicago chapter to develop an arrestee intake and police brutality tracking system. Outside of law school, Patrick develops web applications for Palestine Solidarity Legal Support and organizes Punk Rock Karaoke fundraisers for community organizations across the Northeast.
Maggie Webster is a second-year student at Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center. She became passionate about capital defense after seeing the HBO documentary Paradise Lost and began fundraising for the innocent men known as the West Memphis Three. While attending Millsaps College, she interned with the Office of Capital Defense Counsel, a division of the Mississippi State Public Defender and learned of the challenges associated with indigent defense. After returning to her home state of Louisiana, she worked with Innocence Project-New Orleans and with the Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office, both offices serving the indigent. While not serving on her law school’s Student Bar Association Executive Board, or volunteering with the Baton Rouge Animal Shelter, she is honing her skills as a mean cajun cook.
2012 Haywood Burns Fellows
Khalid Samarrae, a Tulane Law student, assisted the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana in its efforts to transform the juvenile justice system of Louisiana into one that builds on the strengths of students, families, and communities to ensure children are given the greatest opportunity to grow and thrive. He gained experience working against the School-to-Prison Pipeline within a judicial, legislative, and grassroots context and helped to address juvenile justice issues such as: minors serving life without parole; unwarranted use of force by school security officers; conditions of confinement; and education reform within juvenile detention centers.
Tyler Whittenberg, also a Tulane Law student, worked as a legal intern with the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. In an effort to address the early stages of the School-to-Prison Pipeline, he worked with the Recovery School District, students, parents and community members in order to minimize the number of students suspended or expelled and promote the implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS).
Meghan Barner, a student at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, worked on the Death Penalty Project at the recently-established Oregon Justice Resource Center. She’ll be conducting research and litigation assistance in capital appeals and policy-based research designed to aid repeal of the death penalty in Oregon.
Elizabeth Spellman, a student at Vermont Law School, worked with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment’s (CRPE) San Joaquin Valley office. Her work supported efforts to establish healthy, equitable, and just land-use and sustainable development practices that are accountable to and adequately serve very low income, rural communities of color. These efforts, which are identified and designed by impacted communities, utilize a variety of legal and community organizing tools to build community power and address persistent environmental inequality.
Bacilio Mendez II, a New York Law School student, worked in conjunction with the Law Office of Rankin & Taylor and the Center for Constitutional Rights to develop data visualization of the NYPD Stop, Question and Frisk Report Database. This will be done using Open Maps API and will culminate in a set of reports, published by the Guild, which practitioners will be able to reference and cite in court proceedings. You can connect with Bacilio at http://bacilio.com.