Two Rutgers Law School students—Amelia Vangellow-Biramian and Ashley Maddison—have been awarded two-year post-graduation fellowships through Equal Justice Works, an organization that pairs law students with public interest organizations so they can become public service leaders.
Vangellow-Biramian RLAW‘18 will spend her fellowship working with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) in Newark, a legal service provider in New Jersey dedicated to representing unaccompanied immigrant children. During her fellowship, she will provide legal representation for children in immigration proceedings and coordinate meeting their health care and social service needs.
While at Rutgers Law, Vangellow-Biramian worked with the Immigrant Justice Clinic under Professor Joanne Gottesman and became an Immigrant Justice Fellow, developing a panel discussion on refugee law, a DACA workshop, a Power of Attorney workshop, and was a presenter at a “Know Your Rights” training. In addition, she worked as a Maida Fellow at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia and at Delaware Community Legal Aid Society’s Disabilities Law Program.
She said her goal is to work as an immigration attorney for a nonprofit legal services provider and to focus on how the immigration legal process intersects with access to health care and disability services. “I chose Rutgers because of its very strong public interest program and variety of clinics,” she said.
Prior to law school, she worked with a nonprofit that provided medical care and education to migrant farmworkers and was also a teaching assistant for people with developmental disabilities. After graduating from college, Vangellow-Biramian worked at a health clinic for immigrants in Washington D.C., which inspired her to apply to law school. At Rutgers Law, she also took part in the Hunter Moot Court Program.
The Rochester native had this advice for law students, “Take advantage of all of the pro bono and public interest opportunities on and off campus. There are so many different ways to become involved and make a difference while enhancing your legal education! Also attend the public interest career fairs—both in New York and Philadelphia. I first met my future supervisor at KIND during table talk at the NYU public interest fair!”
Maddison RLAW’19 will spend her fellowship working with the Camden Medical-Legal Partnership, a collaboration between the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers and Rutgers Law School that offers innovative, holistic, and community-based legal services to Camden residents with complex health needs.
“I'm super excited to be an Equal Justice Works Fellow, not just for myself but for Rutgers. The number of fellowships Rutgers students have been granted this year reflects the value that our school places on public interest work,” she said. “It demonstrates that support throughout a student's law school career leads to tangible employment outcomes. I am proud to represent our school.”
Prior to law school, Maddison worked for several social services agencies and said she recognized, “There was a great need for practical, sensitive, comprehensive, accessible legal services for individuals with complex physical and psychological health needs.” That inspired her to go to law school and she said she chose Rutgers “specifically for its commitment to public interest.”
While at Rutgers, Maddison took part in the Social Justice Scholars program, the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, the Association of Public Interest Law Students, the Women’s Law Caucus, and was a teaching assistant for Professor Herbert Hinkle. She also spent two summers as a Maida Fellow at Disability Rights Pennsylvania and Legal Clinic for the Disabled, completed an externship with the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender’s Division of Mental Health Advocacy, and worked in the Rutgers Child and Family Advocacy Clinic.
She said her goal is to serve in public interest throughout her legal career, and she cites the Social Justice Scholars Program and her mentorship under Professor Katie Eyer as crucial factors in setting her on the path toward making this goal a reality. Her advice for law students is, “If you think you have an idea of what you'd like to do with your law degree, try it on! With summer internships, externships, clinics, and possibilities for part-time employment, you have plenty of chances to try out various types of jobs to get a feel for what you might like to do after graduation. Plus, each new position is great for networking! You might find something you love or something you hate, and both of those bits of information are valuable for shaping your career.”
This year, in addition to the two Equal Justice Works fellowships, Rutgers Law School students from the Camden and Newark campuses also have been awarded fellowships from the Skadden Foundation, the Immigrant Justice Corps, and California Rural Legal Assistance.