BU Law to Award New Fellowship to Students to Work as Public Defenders

Joins select group of law schools partnering with Gideon’s Promise to address critical legal need

gideon's promiseBoston University School of Law has agreed to join a select group of law schools in the Gideon’s Promise Law School Partnership Project (LSPP) that will provide full-time fellowships to students to work in under-resourced public defender offices. BU Law joins the law schools at Northwestern University, University of Chicago, UCLA, NYU and American University in this program being coordinated by Gideon’s Promise, a nonprofit organization in Atlanta dedicated to public defense reform. The LSPP is funded in part by a $1 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

“Through our educational, clinical and pro bono programs, many of our students have represented low-income clients in the criminal justice system and have gained a deeper appreciation for the challenges that these individuals face,” says BU School of Law Dean Maureen A. O’Rourke. “We are proud to partner with Gideon’s Promise in this important effort to open more public service career opportunities to our students and to address a critical legal need in this country.”

Starting with the Class of 2014, BU Law will fund a one-year post-graduate fellowship for a student to work in a public defender office that is affiliated with Gideon’s Promise and guarantees the student a full-time job after completion of the fellowship. Gideon’s Promise will provide the fellow with three years of training and mentorship in public defense work.

“We are excited to have BU join this important initiative that allows us to partner with law schools, public defender offices and the Department of Justice to collectively push systems in need of reform to live up to the constitutional mandate to ensure equal justice for the most vulnerable among us,” says Gideon’s Promise President Jonathan Rapping. “We are grateful to BU for supporting its graduates who are committed to making the right to counsel a reality for all.”

As part of BU Law’s deep commitment to public service, the School has historically supported students through post-graduate fellowships that enable them to work in under-resourced public service organizations for up to a year. Fellows have worked in the District Attorney’s Offices in Brooklyn, NY and Santa Clara, CA, the Office of the Attorney General for Delaware, Center for Appellate Litigation in New York City, and The Defender Association in Seattle, WA.

Reported February 18, 2014

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