Brooklyn Law School is pleased to announce that eight graduates have been awarded Criminal Justice Post-Graduate Fellowships, the most that have been awarded in one year since the inception of this innovative fellowship program nearly two decades ago. The goal of the program is to provide debt relief assistance to experienced alumni who practice criminal law in the public sector.
This year’s fellows have litigated sex crime cases, financial fraud, and hate crimes, to name just a few areas, and they represented both sides – working in District Attorney’s Offices, at The Legal Aid Society, and for other public defender organizations. All the fellows received a generous $10,000 stipend that is paid directly to their lending institutions. The recipients are chosen by the Fellowship Selection Committee, composed of Professor Robert Pitler, who created the fellowship program, Professor Ursula Bentele, and Hon. Charles Solomon ’72, a New York State Supreme Court Justice.
“This year’s group was as passionate about the importance of criminal lawyers working in the public sector as they were vocal in their enthusiasm for staying involved,” noted Professor Pitler. “We had an excellent group of alumni from which to choose, and these eight graduates have done exemplary work in their respective areas. The committee was proud to be able to award a record number of fellowships this year,” he added.
To be eligible for a fellowship, BLS graduates must have been practicing public sector criminal law for at least five years and have had significant educational debt at the time of graduation. The fellowship is funded from the proceeds of the annual CLE Criminal Law Procedure and Evidence Seminar, organized by Professor Pitler and hosted by the Law School. Each year, this popular seminar draws approximately 300 attorneys who learn about key developments in criminal law, criminal procedure and evidence law from a distinguished group of practitioners, judges, and academics.
The fellows expressed excitement and thanks in response to their selection, noting that such support was vital to maintaining a talented and committed community of criminal lawyers working in the public sector.
“I love the relationships I develop with my clients, which can be as trying as they are rewarding. My clients are often in some sort of crisis in their lives, facing dire consequences. They are truly the underdogs, often themselves victims of abuse,” explained Allison Lewis ’05, who works at the Legal Aid Society of New York, advocating for indigent New York residents and their family members.
“Too often we lose passionate and hardworking attorneys because of low pay and the increasing costs of a law school education,” noted Everett Witherell ’06, a prosecutor with the Nassau County D.A.’s Office, who works in the Major Offense Bureau. “I would like nothing more than to continue my work in criminal law in the public sector.” Thanks to the generous fellowship that Witherell and others received through this program, Brooklyn Law School reinforces its commitment to producing outstanding public sector lawyers and helping to further their careers in this field,” said Dean Nick Allard.
2013 Criminal Justice Post-Graduate Fellowship Recipients
- Emily Auletta ’06, New York County D.A.’s Office, Trial Bureau and Sex Crimes Unit
- Melissa Kaplan ’05, The Legal Aid Society of New York, Criminal Defense Practice
- Matthew Knecht ’99, The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, Supervising Attorney
- Allison Lewis ’05, The Legal Aid Society of New York, Criminal Defense Practice
- Gerard Monusky ’03, New York County D.A.’s Office, Major Economic Crime Bureau
- Sandra Roberts ’04, Kings County D.A.’s Office, Domestic Violence Bureau
- Damani Sims ’06, Kings County D.A.’s Office, Rackets/Civil Rights Division
- Everett Witherell ’06, Nassau County D.A.’s Office, Major Offense Bureau