Three BLS recent alumni have been awarded coveted fellowships for the 2014-2015 year: Cody Carlson ’13 and Justine Pelham ’14 received the Equal Justice Works Fellowship; and Daniel Faessler ’13 received the Tom Steel Post-Graduate Fellowship.
The highly competitive Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellowship places new lawyers in two-year assignments at public service organizations to implement projects that address pressing community needs. Cody Carlson ’13 will be doing his EJW Fellowship at The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS), working to support factory farm whistleblowers by using their documentation to enforce animal cruelty and other applicable laws within this industry. His fellowship is sponsored by the Animal Welfare Trust.
A former animal cruelty investigator for The HSUS and Mercy for Animals, Carlson has seen egregious animal abuse firsthand at many animal-based industries. He came to Brooklyn Law School in search of remedies, and has since pursued impact litigation to address the problem.
Carlson graduated magna cum laude in 2013. He was a Notes & Comments Editor on the Brooklyn Law Review, and an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellow. While in law school he was awarded the Animal Legal Defense Fund Advancement of Animal Law Fellowship, the Animal Welfare Trust Student Internship Grant, and the CALI Excellence for Future Award in Animal Law. He worked at Compassion Over Killing after his first year of law school, and then for The HSUS as a summer litigation intern during his second summer. He was also a judicial intern for two judges in the Southern District of New York: Hon. Colleen McMahon, and Hon. Michael Dolinger. He now serves as law clerk to Hon. Viktor Pohorelsky of the Eastern District of New York.
Carlson has also become a leading author and speaker in the area of animal rights. He has written for The Atlantic and Public Law and has been featured in the New York Times and Rolling Stone.
Justine Pelham ’14 will use her EJW Fellowship to begin working at the Urban Justice Center’s Veteran Advocacy Project (VAP), where she will be assisting VAP’s director and two staff attorneys on matters ranging from VA claims to child support proceedings to housing cases.
VAP, which was created by former EJW Fellow Coco Culhane ’10, helps low-income veterans with mental illness rebuild their lives by ensuring they have access to income, housing, and healthcare. Pelham will conduct client intake at local VA centers and represent veterans in fair hearings, and train law students to represent veterans in fair hearings in order to restore, increase, or maintain their safety net, food stamps, and medical assistance.
Pelham has been an ardent supporter of veterans’ rights throughout her law school career including working with VAP as a volunteer since last summer. In addition, during the spring semester of her second year of law school, Pelham was a Military Practice Clinic extern placed at South Brooklyn Legal Services Veteran’s Justice Project. There, she handled a variety of civil and criminal matters on behalf of veterans. She was also a member of Law Students for Veterans Rights.
In addition to her veteran advocacy work, Pelham was a student advocate for the Courtroom Advocates Project, an intern at the New York Legal Assistance Group Matrimonial and Family Law Unit, and a student advocate at the Law School’s Immigrant Visa Assistance Project.
Pelham’s interest in veterans’ rights is personal: Her father served in Korea in the mid-’70s, and had difficulty reintegrating into civilian life when he returned. “I wanted to try to find some way to get closer to my father,” she said. “I wanted a window into what he was going through. This work has definitely opened my eyes. I learned a lot working with clients that are in or have been in his shoes. This is the work I hope to dedicate my career to.”
Daniel Faessler ’13 received the Tom Steel Post-Graduate Fellowship, a $30,000 grant funded by Pride Law Fund out of San Francisco. The fellowship funds one project a year that fills a legal need for the LGBT community. Faessler’s project involves providing direct legal services to poor and transgender people of color in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Right now in the Bay Area there is no transgender legal organization that focuses on direct legal services,” he said. “Transgender Law Center started out that way, but they have shifted more to impact litigation and policy. I am trying to bring it back to its roots.” Faessler said he hopes to help transgender people fight discrimination as well as gain access to employment, housing, insurance, and government benefits. The project will be hosted at Transgender Law Center in Oakland, in partnership with Bay Area Legal Aid beginning in September 2014.
Faessler, currently a Brooklyn Law School Post-Graduate Fellow at the Transgender Law Center, worked for the American Red Cross before law school and came to BLS with a desire to work in the public interest. While in law school, he spent both summers as a law clerk at Bay Area Legal Aid, first in the Family Law Unit and then in the Economic Justice Unit. He also interned at South Brooklyn Legal Service in its HIV Unit, and he was a legal intern at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence. Faessler was also active in BLS’ student organization, OUTLaws. While at BLS, he studied abroad twice, in Bologna and in Buenos Aires.