On February 13, Fordham Law held the inaugural meeting for the Public Interest Advisory Council, a group of Law School alumni and local public interest leaders who will provide advice on how best to prepare students for legal practice in public interest and public service positions, including legal knowledge, professional skills, and the ethos of service.
“Advancing Fordham Law’s commitment to the public interest and public service is one of my most important goals as dean,” said Matthew Diller. “Fordham Law’s public interest programs, clinics, centers, and Access to Justice Initiative are key parts of our service-oriented identity. The council will elevate all these efforts.”
After Diller welcomed the members of the council, Assistant Dean Tom Schoenherr, founder of the School’s Public Interest Resource Center, provided an overview of extant public interest initiatives at the Law School. He highlighted programs organized by PIRC, including Public Service Day, career fairs, job search events, among others. PIRC oversees the more than 25 student-run, service-oriented service groups at the Law School.
Current 2L Frank Kearl described for the council his own experiences with pro bono and public interest matters at Fordham Law, including his membership on the Stein Scholars Council, the Immigration Advocacy Project, and the National Lawyers Guild. During Kearl’s winter break, he traveled to Dilley, Texas, with fellow students and staff of the Feerick Center for Social Justice to help detained mother and children in a federal detention facility prepare for asylum interviews.
After the presentation, council members discussed how the School might improve its promotion of public interest among the student population and cited initiatives that other schools were engaged in. Members agreed that the School’s mission, “In the service of others,” behooves it to make public interest a priority.
The council will also provide feedback on the effectiveness of the School’s programs and serve as a source of ideas for better linking students to public service and public interest careers.