Ten Graduates Secure Public Interest Fellowships

08.15.2022

Public Interest Alumni
Top, from left: Megan Grenville, Ivan Parfenoff, Kara Kurland, Marissa Jackson, Marlee Rich; bottom, from left: Ian McCollum, Eliza Quander, Jennifer Shanahan, Wafa Junaid, Nicole Camargo Almeida

Ten recent graduates will launch their careers in public interest through both national and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law post-graduate fellowships this year. These graduates have dedicated their time and skills to causes ranging from healthcare expansion to supporting immigrant communities to helping survivors of gender-based violence.

Northwestern Pritzker Law is a leader in preparing students for public interest careers and pro bono work, with an unparalleled focus on the advancement of social justice. “This year we have a great group of fellowship winners who are committed to making our legal system more equitable and just,” says Cindy Wilson, clinical professor and director of the Public Interest Center at Northwestern Pritzker Law. “They have dedicated tremendous time and effort working to prepare themselves to be public interest attorneys. I am confident that with the skills they have built during law school they will be excellent advocates for their clients and will further the cause of social justice.”

To help talented graduates launch public interest careers, the Law School fellowships and external fellowships award students with competitive salaries, plus medical insurance coverage, to support one or two years of full time service as a lawyer at a nonprofit or government agency.

Equal Justice Works Fellows

Nicole Camargo Almeida

Nicole Camargo Almeida (JD ’22) will be hosted by Legal Action Chicago in Chicago, where she will focus her work on Health Care and Immigrant Populations. Growing up as an immigrant, Almeida learned first-hand the challenges faced by immigrant populations. She will use this knowledge and her legal education to provide direct representation to clients in the enrollment process for already-existing healthcare expansions. Almeida will also provide community education explaining the healthcare programs and combating communal fear and mistrust of the government. Finally, Almeida will engage in policy work to advocate for further healthcare expansions and reform.

Ian McCollum

Ian McCollum (JD ’22) will be hosted by Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago, Illinois, where he will work as part of the Pre-Release Enrollment Program to assist disabled and criminalized Illinoisans reintegrate into society. McCollum will work between the Illinois Department of Corrections, Disability Determination Services, and Social Security Administration branch offices to facilitate applications for presently incarcerated individuals, helping them produce the necessary evidence and documentation for successful benefits claims. The goal of these efforts is to reduce post-release health decline, homelessness, and recidivism. Beginning this process before release from prison will narrow the gap between prison and community reentry.

Skadden Fellowship

Wafa Junaid

Wafa Junaid (JD ’22) will be providing direct representation, impact litigation, public education, and policy advocacy at the American Civil Liberties Union—Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York City. Specifically, Junaid will be challenging Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Intensive Supervision Appearance Program, a highly invasive monitoring program used to expand ICE’s surveillance and control of immigrant communities. Junaid previously worked for the American Civil Liberties Union on issues such as police misconduct, First Amendment rights, and warrantless surveillance. She also interned at the Federal Defender Program and the MacArthur Justice Center, both in Chicago.

Eliza Quander

Eliza Quander (JD ’22) will be working at Legal Aid Chicago in Chicago, providing direct representation and community education for students who have either dropped out of school or are at risk of dropping out, in school discipline, special education, and enrollment disputes to enforce their educational rights. Prior to law school, Quander was a paralegal in the Children and Families Practice Group at Legal Aid Chicago. While in law school, Eliza worked at Loevy & Loevy as a Justice Summer Associate where she assisted attorneys with prisoners’ rights cases. Her other experience includes working as a Summer Law Clerk at Orleans Public Defenders.

Northwestern Law Post-Graduate Fellows

Megan Grenville

Megan Grenville (JD ’22) has a longstanding interest in the rights of people with disabilities. Grenville spent her first summer at the ACLU of Illinois. She also spent four semesters working as a student in the Center on Wrongful Convictions, where she worked closely with clients and continued to build her advocacy skills. Starting in the fall of her second year, Grenville worked at her proposed host, Equip for Equality (EFE), as an extern, a summer intern, and a volunteer. As a fellow, she will be working on the Civil Rights team on a range of discrimination cases, including on behalf of incarcerated people in Illinois.

Kara Kurland

Kara Kurland (JD ’22) has been committed to public interest work prior to and throughout law school, with a particular interest in appellate litigation. Beginning her 2L year, Kurland worked on prisoners’ rights litigation as a student attorney in the appellate division of the MacArthur Justice Center. She spent that summer interning for the Office of the State Appellate Defender (OSAD) in Chicago, and immediately knew she wanted to continue with appellate defense work. In her 3L year, Kurland joined Northwestern’s Appellate Advocacy Center, where she briefed a federal appellate habeas petition and argued it before the Seventh Circuit. She will return to OSAD as a fellow and continue to represent indigent defendants on appeal. 

Ivan Parfenoff

Ivan Parfenoff (JD ’22) devoted many hours before and during law school volunteering with the Chicago Community Bond Fund in the successful effort to end money bond in Illinois. Parfenoff spent his 1L summer externing for a federal judge and in his 2L year completed externships with the Federal Defender and the City of Chicago Law Department while working as a student in the Immigration Clinic. During his 3L year, he was a student in the Federal Appellate Clinic, which was great preparation for the appellate work he will do at his fellowship host agency, the Office of the Illinois Solicitor General.

Marlee Rich

Marlee Rich (JD ’22) left a successful career at Google to follow her passion of advocating for social justice. She came to law school with a strong interest in representing survivors of gender-based violence. During her first summer she worked for the Illinois Human Rights Commission. She then spent a summer working for her host organization, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE). She spent a semester in the Center on Wrongful Convictions and was a student in the Children and Family Justice Center during her 3L year. She also completed an externship at the ACLU of Illinois. At CAASE, she will continue her work on behalf of survivors of gender-based violence.

Jennifer Shanahan

Jennifer Shanahan (JD ‘22) worked for years as a musician before starting law school to advocate for people in the criminal justice system. As a 1L, Shanahan volunteered with the John Howard Association representing a client in a parole proceeding. She spent her first summer with Uptown’s People Law Center working on a class action case against the Illinois Department of Corrections. During her second year, she was president of the Public Interest Student Group, and she spent her second summer at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. Shanahan’s fellowship will be at Cabrini Green Legal Aid, working primarily on their Criminal and Juvenile Defense Team.

Marissa Jackson

Marissa Jackson (JD ’22) has a longtime interest in reducing incarceration. She spent her 1L summer as a judicial extern and her 2L summer at the Center on Wrongful Convictions. She continued her work at the CWC during her 2L and 3L years, including serving as a teaching assistant for the Center. She served as co-president of SFPIF and was awarded the Rivers Casino Criminal Justice Award. She will continue to work on reforming the criminal justice system during her fellowship with the Illinois Prison Project.

Visit the Public Interest Center for more information.