Two members of the graduating class of 2020, Emma-Lee Clinger and Maura Tracy, have been awarded prestigious postgraduate fellowships from Equal Justice Works (EJW), an organization dedicated to transforming passionate law students into committed public service lawyers.
They are two of 78 recipients of this year’s EJW Fellowship for 2020, selected from a pool of 432 applicants nationwide. Both will continue the work they began during their years at law school by partnering with New York-based organizations on public service initiatives. Both graduates also participated in Fordham Law’s Stein Scholars program, where they honed not only their legal acumen, but their career goals while embodying the Law School’s motto: “In the Service of Others.”
“Emma-Lee and Maura are both incredible advocates, and we have been so fortunate to have them as public interest leaders in the Fordham community. We are so excited that their devotion to social justice work and tremendous experience have been recognized with the award of an Equal Justice Works Fellowship,” remarked Aisha Baruni, director of the Stein Scholars Program. “These fellowships are a tremendous honor and opportunity. Through their fellowship projects, both will provide critical, much-needed services directly to the vulnerable communities they have been working with during their time as law students.”
Tracy will complete her fellowship with The Door, an organization that provides comprehensive support for young people, where she will work specifically with Spanish-speaking immigrant youth who are survivors of trafficking or gender-based violence. She says that two visits to aid asylum-seeking families in the South Texas Family Residential Center, on behalf of Fordham’s Feerick Center for Social Justice and Immigration Advocacy Project, were particularly formative. “I participated in one of the service trips to Dilley, Texas, during the spring break of my 1L year,” she explained. “It was such a transformative and amazing experience because I was able to remind myself why I came to law school. I witnessed a lot of the terrible things that are happening in detention centers near the border.”
Tracy worked with The Door the summer before her final year of law school, and she looks forward to partnering with them again. “I’m really excited to be an attorney representing young people who are in crisis and working with them to navigate a difficult period in their lives,” she said. “I hope also to help them achieve meaningful immigration status and connect them to different social services.”
Clinger will be working with The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice alongside their Special Litigation Unit’s “Set the Record Straight” Project, which assists juveniles and adults with delinquency charges. While some of the charges are relatively minor, they often carry many long-term consequences when applying for jobs or educational opportunities. “Part of my job during my fellowship will be to counsel individuals on their juvenile records-related rights and what they don’t have to disclose, whether to an employer, a police officer, or whomever,” said Clinger.
Legal Aid’s comprehensive approach to client support was a highlight of Clinger’s past work with the organization. “It’s not just providing direct representation in a narrow area of the law, it will take a more holistic approach,” she explained. “That’s something I really loved doing both my summers at Legal Aid. Our work went beyond representation in a criminal case. It extended to advocating for welfare benefits or assisting on their family or civil case that ran concurrently.” Like Tracy, she enjoys connecting with her clients. “I’m really excited about doing direct service work. I just love talking to people, hearing their stories and advocating with them standing there right beside me.”
The EJW Fellowship not only offers its recipients an auspicious first job after graduation, but it cultivates the next generation of public service advocates—nearly 85 percent of Fellows remain in public service, working to aid underserved communities.
“Equal Justice Works is proud to facilitate opportunities for passionate public service leaders to tackle pressing injustices in our country today,” said Mia Sussman, director of Fellowships at Equal Justice Works. “We look forward to seeing the impact that Fellows Maura Tracy and Emma-Lee Clinger will have on the communities they serve in New York City over the next two years.”