February 8, 2007
Ariel Patterson ('07) Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowship
Equal Justice Works, an organization which advocates for increased public interest programming at law schools, recently awarded Ariel Patterson (’07) a fellowship that will allow her to work toward the elimination of illegal debt. She is the third BU Law alum to receive such an honor.
Patterson will partner with the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, a 30-person law firm located in Florida that provides civil legal assistance to low income clients. She will work with two of the nation’s top consumer attorneys, Lynn Drysdale and April Charney, who head the Predatory Lending department. For her fellowship, Patterson will establish a debt counseling and management program, setting up an intake process for clients with significant debt and predatory loans.
“My primary goal will be to spot illegal debt and work to eliminate it,” said Patterson. “Jacksonville is unfortunately one of the worst cities in the country when it comes to predatory mortgages, foreclosure rates and payday lending. These will be the things I work against.”
Patterson began working at the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid after her first year of law school and said it was her best working experience to date. “I love the client interaction that comes with working at Legal Aid. Credit and debt problems have become overwhelming in our country and most people don't realize they're being targeted. It’s satisfying to work for the ‘good guy’ in a field where attorneys are tight-knit, helpful and dedicated,” she said.
Patterson said several classes she’s taken at BU Law will directly help her with her fellowship, including Consumer Law, Bankruptcy, Secured Transactions and the Civil Litigation Clinic, which she is currently taking. “I think the clinic fieldwork will be the biggest help,” she said. “My project will require me to litigate cases, and the practice and supervision I get through the clinic will definitely help prepare me for that work.”
In the past, Equal Justice Works Fellows have worked in the fields of domestic violence, employment discrimination, health care and affordable housing. They work to improve access to the judicial system to the elderly, disabled, people with HIV/AIDS, battered women, children and racial and ethnic minorities. The organization supports 100 fellows in 22 states, and is the national leader in creating summer and postgraduate public interest career opportunities for law students and lawyers.