September 13, 2011 13:33 Age: 3 yrs

Donor Support Funds Summer Pro Bono Work for 30 Emory Law Students

Thirty Emory Law students spent the summer volunteering in public interest jobs across the country and abroad. Their community service was possible through donor support of the Emory Public Interest Committee’s (EPIC) Summer Grant Program.

EPIC, a student-run organization, administers grants of up to $5,000 to support law students who accept volunteer positions in the field of public interest law. The grant program placed students in jobs in from Atlanta to Egypt, working in disciplines that included international human rights and environmental law. Each grant funds 10 weeks of full-time work.

The grants are critical for students to build a public interest career, said EPIC President Kristen Tullos 12L.

“We want students to be able to accept the summer job that offers the most valuable experience, regardless of the paycheck,” Tullos said. The list of participating organizations testifies to the diverse and valuable experience the grants provide, she added.

Dan Hougendobler 12L 12PH worked with the Medicines Patent Pool in Geneva. "I previously had experiences working with global health issues in the field in South Africa, Rwanda and Haiti but had never had the chance to work on large-scale policy change. Thanks to the EPIC grant, I have been able to spend the summer working at the global level to shape policy that could potentially impact millions of HIV/AIDS patients," Hougendobler said.

Molly Parmer 12L worked in the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office and was sworn in under Georgia's third-year practice act.

“From making contact with a client for the first time, through trial and sentencing, I was able to fully represent indigent individuals charged with criminal offenses,” Parmer said. “My favorite part of this internship was helping those who need it most and doing it to the best of my ability."

Will Romine 12L had previously served in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan. This summer, he returned there to volunteer at the Rural Development Fund in Bishkek. He worked with an attorney on analysis of the country’s forestry laws, which he later applied in field research.

“Kyrgyzstan is a land where custom and interpersonal relations often trump law,” Romine said. “The most valuable aspect of my job was to interview those affected by the forest laws and see how these two factors influenced compliance, or noncompliance, with the laws on the book.”

In 2011, 59 applicants met all the qualifications for consideration, Tullos said. The application stipulations require a demonstrated commitment to public service prior to seeking funding. Students must secure a public interest job and certify they have completed at least 30 volunteer hours to apply.

EPIC ‘s annual Inspiration Awards ceremony is the major fundraiser supporting the grants, Tullos said. In 2011, more than $130,000 was raised. Other revenue sources were book and T-shirt sales. Also, Emory Law contributed $11,000 toward employer payroll taxes, she said.

A list of this year’s recipients and their project workplace follows.

2011 EPIC Summer Grant Recipients

  • Grace Akan, Southern Public Defender Training Center; Atlanta
  • Caleb Avraham, Fulton County Public Defender’s Office; Atlanta
  • Sarah Austin, Atlanta Legal Aid Society; Atlanta
  • Jennifer Bellis, Southern Environmental Law Center; Atlanta
  • Jordan Clark, Latin American Association, Immigration Services; Atlanta
  • Ruth Dawson, National Partnership for Women & Families; Washington, D.C.
  • Shoshana Elon, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Atlanta
  • Chelsea Feustel, Atlanta Legal Aid Society; Atlanta
  • Jasmine Gibbs, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights; Boston
  • Rachel Gordon, Orleans Public Defenders; New Orleans
  • Ilan Grapel, Resettlement Legal Aid Project; Cairo
  • Dan Hougendobler, Medicines Patent Pool; Geneva
  • Jennifer Kidwell, Oklahoma Indian Legal Services; Oklahoma City
  • Heather Little, Cook County Public Defender; Chicago
  • Aalia Maan, Rene Cassin — The Jewish Voice for Human Rights; London
  • Leonard Mathis Jr., Fulton County Office of the Child Attorney; Atlanta
  • Molly Parmer, DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office; Decatur, Ga.
  • Ashley Payne, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York; New York
  • Ritu Rana, Humane Society of the United States; Washington, D.C.
  • Elizabeth Redpath, Lambda Legal; Atlanta
  • Will Romine, Rural Development Fund; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Sarah Ross-Benjamin, Cobb County District Attorney’s Office; Marietta, Ga.
  • Tamara Schiff, Western Shoshone Defense Project; Crescent Valley, Nev.
  • James Thomas, Office of the Colorado State Public Defender; Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Kate Thompson, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Washington, D.C.
  • Kristen Tullos, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty; Washington, D.C.
  • Sara Warren, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper; Atlanta
  • Jennifer Williams, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Atlanta
  • Andrea Wood, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia; Washington, D.C.
  • Katherine Wu, Center for Medicare Advocacy; Washington, D.C.
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