Maya Lentz (JD-LLM IHR ’14) has been awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship, allowing her to pursue her passion for public interest law through a project with the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy in Evanston.
Applicants for the competitive fellowships work with a nonprofit host organization to design a project that will provide legal assistance to vulnerable communities. Following the application process, Equal Justice Works selects projects most likely to be matched with sponsors. The sponsors then choose the fellows. Between 45 and 55 two-year fellowships are provided each year, based on the level of available funding.
“Unfortunately, due to limited resources, many nonprofit legal agencies can’t afford to hire entry-level legal attorneys,” said Cindy Wilson, clinical professor of law and director of the Center for Externships. “The fellowship offers a wonderful opportunity to provide dedicated, committed law school graduates a way to do what they want to do — to serve clients — in an area where they are needed most. It’s a wonderful way to launch a career in public interest law.”
Lentz’s project will be sponsored by DLA Piper, one of the world’s largest business law firms, which focuses on juvenile justice work among other pro bono initiatives. In conjunction with the Moran Center, Lentz’s project will center on the school-to-prison pipeline. She hopes to prevent at-risk students from entering the criminal justice system and to help those already trapped within the system. Lentz will also be working to establish restorative justice programs at area middle schools.
Lentz expressed her gratitude to those at Northwestern Law who helped her apply for the fellowship and advised her throughout her tenure as a student. “I am unbelievably grateful to have attended Northwestern,” said Lentz. “The faculty here extend themselves tremendously to ensure students are encouraged throughout their career search process. I am eternally indebted to them, and feel so lucky to have received meaningful, individualized attention and support, allowing me to achieve my dreams.”
As a law student at Northwestern, Lentz served as president of the Public Interest Law Group and completed externships at Equip for Equality, LAF (formerly the Legal Assistant Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), and three ACLU offices.