Ginger Tanton (JD ’14) has been awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship and will spend the next two years pursuing her interests in immigration and public interest law through a project with Chicago’s Domestic Violence Legal Clinic.
Equal Justice Works Fellowship applicants work with a nonprofit host organization to design a project aimed at providing legal assistance to vulnerable communities. Equal Justice Works then selects the projects most likely to be matched with sponsors. The sponsors choose the fellows. This year, 61 law school graduates received fellowships, marking an increase from the number awarded last year.
Tanton’s project, titled “The Independence Project,” will be sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm. She will work with the DVLC, focusing on helping undocumented domestic violence victims achieve legal security, as well as social and economic independence. Tanton will aid clients seeking U Visas, which grant temporary legal status to undocumented victims of certain crimes who cooperate with the police.
“In my 2L year, I had a year-long internship at the Legal Assistance Foundation Immigration Project, where I learned about these U Visas, and I think they’re a really great tool,” said Tanton. “It’s great that Congress created them, but I feel like not as many people access them as could.”
In addition to helping to increase awareness of U Visas, Tanton also hopes to use the DVLC’s network to refer clients to other useful services.
“A lot of the time people get these U Visas and we’ll say, ‘That’s great, see you later,’ but that doesn’t take into account that these people may not have the job skills, may not be used to working in a culture where women can have their own jobs, may not be used to living alone, or may need financial help or financial management skills,” Tanton said. “We can provide them with these services in addition to just giving them legal status.”
While a student at Northwestern University School of Law, Tanton was the Roslyn C. Lieb Honorary Intern at the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She also completed internships with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Committee and the LAF.
As for the next two years, Tanton is most looking forward to interacting with clients on a daily basis. Having previously taught English as a second language, she is also fluent in Spanish, which many of her clients speak.