Five Members of the Class of 2019 Secure Public Interest Fellowships


Public Interest Students

Five members of the Class of 2019 will launch their careers in public interest through both national and Northwestern Law post-graduate fellowships this fall.

The national fellowships, secured through the Skadden Foundation, Equal Justice Works, and the Equal Justice Initiative, were won by Hillary Chutter-Ames, Nina Terebessy, and Natalie Unger, respectively.

“Northwestern Law is a leader in preparing students for public interest careers, and our Class of 2019 national fellowship winners are evidence of that. We are so proud of them,” says Cindy Wilson, director of the Public Interest Center and a clinical professor of law.

Hillary Chutter-Ames, Skadden Fellowship

Hillary Chutter-Ames (JD ’19) was one of 27 recipients of a 2019 Skadden Fellowship, one of the most prestigious and competitive public interest fellowships in the country. Chutter-Ames will work at Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, where she will provide direct legal services to a coalition of community-based organizations working to decrease police violence, reduce constitutional violations, improve police accountability, and make neighborhoods safer. At Northwestern Law, Chutter-Ames served as president of the Public Interest Law Group and editor-in-chief of the Northwestern University Law Review.

Nina Terebessy, Equal Justice Works Fellowship

Nina Terebessy (JD ’19) received a 2019 Equal Justice Works Fellowship sponsored by AbbVie Inc. and Kirkland & Ellis LLP. She will be hosted by LAF, where she will work on a project aimed at responding to Chicago Public Schools’ system-wide failure to identify and appropriately respond to sexual misconduct and violence against students, as uncovered by a 2018 Chicago Tribune investigation. This will include direct representation of students in Title IX and related issues; providing trainings and resources to students, families, and community stakeholders; and monitoring CPS and other Cook County school districts as they revise their policies and procedures with regard to on-campus sexual assault. Terebessy previously interned at LAF as well as the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and was an associate editor of the Northwestern University Law Review.

Natalie Unger, Equal Justice Initiative Fellowship

Natalie Unger (JD ’19) was selected for the two-year Equal Justice Initiative Fellowship. Founded by Bryan Stevenson, EJI is a non-profit law office and human rights organization based in Montgomery, Alabama that provides legal assistance to condemned prisoners, children in the criminal justice system, people wrongly convicted or sentenced, and the poor and vulnerable facing imprisonment. Unger previously worked as a Gideon’s Promise Summer Law Clerk with Nashville Defenders. She also served as articles editor of the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.

Northwestern Law Post-Graduate Fellows

Northwestern Law Post-Graduate Fellowships were created to help address the mismatch between demand for services and supply of talent. Each Post-Graduate Fellow receives a grant in the amount of $50,000, plus medical insurance coverage, to support one year of full-time service as a lawyer at a nonprofit or government agency. While there is a tremendous need for legal services in the public interest sector, there is a shortage of opportunity because of the lack of adequate financing. As a result, entry-level positions for public interest-minded recent law school graduates are scarce. 

Our post-graduate program has been incredibly successful in launching public service careers,” Wilson says. “The program is a win-win: Our graduates get terrific public interest experience right out of law school, and organizations fighting for justice get access to our very talented graduates.”

Sarah Aagard

Sarah Aagard (JD ’19) has been selected as a Gideon’s Promise Fellow in the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, Kentucky’s public defender system. Under the Gideon’s Promise Law School Partnernship Project, Northwestern Law will sponsor Aagard’s first year of their three-year intensive training program. Aagard previously interned in the King County Department of Public Defense in Seattle and she is a former president of the student group SFPIF which raises money to support Northwestern law students in their summer jobs.

Sydney Penny

Sydney Penny (JD ’19) received a Barry McNamara Post-Graduate Fellowship to join the civil rights team at Equip for Equality, a non-profit legal services agency dedicated to advancing the rights of people with disabilities. Penny has spent much of her time in at Northwestern working on disability rights issues, previously interning at Equip for Equality, as well as advocating for people with disabilities — including incarcerated people with disabilities—at the Uptown People’s Law Center. 

For more information on public interest and pro bono work at Northwestern Law, visit our Public Interest Center.