Liman Public Interest Program at Yale Law School Expands

The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at Yale Law School will hold its ninth annual colloquium on March 30 and 31.

The colloquium takes place in a period of expansion, growing diversity and a weaving together of Yale Law School not only with its undergraduate counterpart, Yale College, but also with several other leading universities and colleges, including Brown, Harvard, Princeton, Barnard and Spelman.

With fellowships to undergraduates for summer work in public interest and funding to Yale Law graduates to work for underserved populations, the Liman Program is a unique, intergenerational effort to build a community of concerned advocates focused on public service. 

This year’s colloquium, “Organizing and Reorganizing: Public Interest in Individual and Global Contexts,” will bring scholars, advocates and students from across the country.  It runs in conjunction with the unveiling of the portrait of the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who is a graduate of the Yale Law School Class of 1954. Topics will include the challenges of helping the disabled, the problems for immigrants in the labor market and the relationship between advocacy against life without parole and advocacy against the death penalty. 
The Liman Program was founded in 1997 by the family, friends and colleagues of Arthur Liman, Yale Law School ’57, and endowed in his honor. Liman personified the ideal of commitment to public interest. Throughout his long and distinguished career, he demonstrated how dedicated lawyers can serve the needs of people and promote causes that might otherwise go unrepresented.

“We are really touched by all the help and support that the Liman family has provided for public interest work,” says Judith Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law and founding director. “The Program makes plain what law schools can do, working cooperatively with lawyers, current students, alums and undergraduates at several universities to provide services to those so lacking in support.”

“I am honored to continue my father’s legacy through the Liman Public Interest Program,” says Doug Liman, executive producer and movie director, whose films include “Swingers,” “The Bourne Identity” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” “It is my hope that even more Fellows will have the opportunity to provide a voice and advocate for those in need.”

In 2004, with a generous gift from Doug Liman, the summer undergraduate public service program expanded from stipends for Harvard students to include students at Brown and Yale. With additional support from the Liman Family Foundation, the program expanded again in Summer 2005 to include students from Barnard, and this summer, students from Princeton and Spelman will also participate in the program. 

In 1998, the summer program had three Summer Fellows. This summer, it will have more than two dozen.   

“Insofar as we know,” says Resnik, “we are the only such program in the country that has created this kind of intergenerational ladder of public-spirited undergraduates, law students and graduates. And the program is special in that it aims to help this fellowship continue over time.  Further, we have just launched our first inter-law school fellowship, as one of the upcoming Law School Fellows will be at NYU’s Brennan Center.”

Deborah Cantrell, the current director of the Liman Program added:  “It is remarkable proof of the effectiveness of the fellowship that 23 of our 26 former Law School Fellows remain working on behalf of those who are underrepresented or underserved.”

The seven new Yale Law School Fellows, to serve in 2006–2007:

Alice Chapman, a 2003 graduate, will serve her fellowship at the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the ACLU in New York.

Sameera Fazili, to graduate in 2006, will spend her fellowship year at Shorebank in Chicago, working with their affiliate Northern Initiatives to create a consortium of community development financial institutions in an innovative effort to raise investment capital for people with limited access to such funds.

Paige Herwig, also graduating in 2006, will work at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, DC, where she will focus on state regulation of pharmacies, exploring ways to improve access to contraception.

Anna Rich, a 2003 graduate, will spend her fellowship year at the National Senior Citizens’ Law Center in Oakland, CA, to advocate for individuals with disabilities and for low-income seniors affected by Medicare’s new prescription drug plan.

Larry Schwartztol, a 2005 graduate, will hold the Program’s first joint fellowship, co-sponsored by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School; he will be a part of its Democracy Program and direct his efforts towards reform of state felony disenfranchisement laws and the enforcement of state voting rights for individuals with criminal convictions.

Marc Silverman, graduating in 2006, will spend his fellowship year at Advocates for Children in New York, where he will work on behalf of older youth with disabilities as they make the transition from schools to employment, post-secondary education, training programs and independent living.

Charisa Smith, a 2005 graduate, will begin a new project at JustChildren in Richmond, VA, where her focus will be on juvenile parolees in need of legal assistance to obtain housing, education, health care, mentoring and vocational training. She hopes to establish centers that will provide a range of services for this population.

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