Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Liman Center Names New Yale Law School Fellows

The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law welcomes 10 incoming fellows and has awarded three extensions to current fellows for 2021–2022. Since its founding in 1997 and with this group, the Liman Center has awarded fellowships to 163 Yale Law School graduates. Of the former fellows, 90 percent work in public interest jobs, including positions in government, the academy, and nonprofit organizations.

Liman Fellows from Yale Law School spend a year working in public interest law in the United States. This group of fellows will focus on the challenges of housing for people with disabilities; the risks and harms of incarceration for older and for gender-nonconforming individuals; the economic challenges facing immigrants seeking to post bond to leave detention; students aiming to pay off student loans; individuals whose cars have been impounded because of the inability to pay government fees and fines; the impact of technologies from DNA to databases on prosecutions and defense of crimes; and the elimination of the use of the death penalty. Fellows’ host organizations are based in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C.

Two incoming fellows will hold specially designated fellowships. In 2017, when celebrating its 20th year, former Fellows helped to fund a Resnik-Curtis Fellowship to honor Judith Resnik, the Center’s Founding Director, and Dennis Curtis, Clinical Professor Emeritus and a pioneer in Yale Law School’s Clinical Program. In 2018, the Liman Center created the Meselson Fellowship in memory of Amy Meselson ’02, a former Liman Fellow who worked tirelessly on behalf of immigrant children. This fellowship continues through the generosity of her family, friends, and classmates. 

Hannah Abelow ’21 will join Queens Legal Services in Queens, New York. She will work to overcome barriers to tenants’ invocation of disability rights through a combination of policy advocacy and direct services. Her project aims to expand access to the courts, improve the adjudication of disability claims arising in landlord-tenant cases, and enhance the quality of defense provided to tenants facing evictions. Abelow graduated from Brown University in 2014 and worked in several positions for former Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo ’98. At Yale Law School, Abelow has been a member of the Community Economic Development Clinic, the Housing Clinic, and the Small Business and Community in a Time of Crisis Clinic. After her fellowship year, she will clerk for Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in the Eastern District of New York. 

Sophie Angelis ’21 will join Rights Behind Bars in Washington, D.C. She will represent elderly people in prison who are seeking compassionate release and other accommodations for age-related disabilities. Angelis has been a student director of the Green Haven Prison Project at Yale Law School. After graduating from Harvard University in 2013, she interned at Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts. She has studied prisons in Norway on a Fulbright fellowship. 

Jonathan Cohen ’20, the Resnik-Curtis Fellow, will join the Rhode Island Center for Justice in Providence, Rhode Island. Through a combination of direct services, legislative advocacy, and litigation, he will work to mitigate the risks and harms of incarceration for queer Rhode Islanders inside and outside of prison. His project’s goals include improving access to stable housing, ending the use of solitary confinement, and increasing accountability for the state’s Department of Corrections administrators. Cohen holds a master’s degree from Harvard Kennedy School and an undergraduate degree from Brown University. He graduated from Yale Law School in 2020, and he is currently a law clerk for Chief Judge John J. McConnell of the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island. 

Allison Durkin ’21 will join the Legal Aid Society of New York in New York City. She will work in the DNA Unit to promote the transparency of forensic biological testing techniques and challenge technologies that contribute to wrongful convictions. At Yale Law School, Durkin was a Coker Fellow, a member of the Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic and the Pediatric Medical-Legal Partnership, and a board member of the Thomas Swan Barristers’ Union and the Clinical Student Board. Durkin is a 2016 graduate of Yale College. Before law school, she worked at the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. 

Eli Feasley ’21 will join the Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit where they will build a case management system and analyze the criminal punishment system to support client-centered defense and advocacy for indigent defendants. This project aims to improve the quality of representation, combat inequities, and reduce the number of people behind bars. Feasley will also have a small caseload, using this work in their client representation. Feasley graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 2011. After studying machine learning at the University of Texas, they worked as a data scientist and software engineer at Khan Academy. At Yale Law School, Feasley co-directed the Rebellious Lawyering conference and participated in the Liman Project, the Challenging Mass Incarceration Clinic, and the Media Freedom and Information Advocacy Clinic.

Duncan Hosie ’21 will spend his fellowship year at the national office of the ACLU and will be based in New York City. His project will concentrate on ensuring that the civil rights of individuals are not eroded by exemptions for others asserting their religious freedoms. One focus will be employment discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Hosie graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 2016, where he majored in the School of Public and International Affairs. He also earned graduate degrees from the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar. At Yale Law School, he was a student director of the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project and a Coker Fellow. After his fellowship, he will clerk for Judge Paul J. Watford of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Sophie Laing ’21 will join Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Portland, Maine. She will work to secure relief for student loan borrowers who are mistreated by loan servicing entities. Laing’s project will include affirmative litigation against servicers engaged in unlawful practices, defending borrowers in debt collection proceedings, and providing trainings on ways to find relief. Laing received a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University in 2016. At Yale Law School, Laing co-directed the HAVEN Medical-Legal Partnership. Through the Housing Clinic, she represented homeowners facing foreclosure.

James Mooney ’19 will join the ACLU of Illinois in Chicago. He will work to combat regressive fine and fee policies that disproportionately harm people of color. Mooney graduated from Davidson College in 2014. At Yale Law School, he participated in the Reentry Clinic and spent summers at the Orleans Public Defenders and the ACLU National Prison Project. Mooney, who graduated in 2019, has clerked for Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. He is currently clerking for Judge Thomas H. Hardiman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Mooney has published essays on criminal legal reform and access to justice topics in SlateThe Yale Law Journal, and the Yale Law & Policy Review

Isadora Ruyter-Harcourt ’21 will spend her fellowship year at the Powell Project in Denver, Colorado. She will focus on racial discrimination and bias under state law in the use of the death penalty. Ruyter-Harcourt will gather and analyze statewide data as part of teams of lawyers working on capital defense. At Yale Law School, Ruyter-Harcourt served as co-chair of the Capital Assistance Project and YLS Defenders, and as a member of the Criminal Justice Clinic and the Capital Assistance Clinic. She graduated from Barnard College at Columbia University in 2016. Before law school, she worked for two years as a paralegal at the Federal Defenders, Eastern District of New York. 

Kshithij Shrinath ’21, the Meselson-Liman Fellow, will join The Bronx Defenders in their Impact Litigation Unit. He will work to challenge arbitrary bond practices in immigration court. Shrinath’s project will aim to have immigration judges in the New York City area consider individuals’ ability to pay when setting bond as well as alternatives to detention. Shrinath graduated from Georgetown University in 2017. At Yale Law School, he is a member of the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic and has co-chaired the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. This fellowship honors the memory of Amy Meselson ’02, a former Liman Fellow. 

Three current fellows will receive extensions for 2021–2022:

Josh Blecher-Cohen ’20 will extend his fellowship at the ACLU of Illinois, where he works at the intersection of LGBT+ rights and criminal legal reform. As a Liman Fellow, Blecher-Cohen will continue challenging housing discrimination against LGBT+ people with criminal records. He will also expand his focus by working on litigation to advocate for trans people in state and federal prisons. Blecher-Cohen holds degrees from Harvard and Oxford and graduated from Yale Law School in 2020, where he was co-chair of the Yale Civil Rights Project, managing editor of The Yale Law Journal, and student director of the Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic. He has also worked to reform Connecticut’s parentage laws to improve the protection of LGBT+ families.

Sam Frizell ’20 will continue at Legal Aid of New York, working to lessen discrimination against low-income New Yorkers who use housing vouchers to help pay their rent. During his first year, Frizell worked on cases against dozens of New York City landlords and brokers who illegally discriminate against residents seeking housing. In his second year, the project will also focus on how criminal background checks in housing, like voucher discrimination, exacerbate housing segregation. Frizell earned his J.D. in 2020 from Yale Law School, where he was a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic and the Housing Clinic. Before law school, Frizell was a journalist and a staff writer for TIME magazine.

Joseph Schottenfeld ’19 is at the NAACP, where he mixes advocacy and litigation to improve housing stability and challenge unjust housing and unfair voting rights practices in the Southeast. During his first year, Schottenfeld helped develop and launch the pilot Housing Navigator Program in South Carolina. The program pairs trained community volunteers with tenants to help those tenants facing evictions gain access to legal and nonlegal services. Schottenfeld will expand the program by increasing its reach around the Southeast and by deepening ties with local services providers. Building on work during the first year, Schottenfeld will be involved in housing and prison condition cases. He earned his J.D. in 2019 from Yale Law School, where he was a member of the Peter Gruber Rule of Law Clinic and the co-president of the National Security Group. Before joining the NAACP, Schottenfeld clerked for Judge Marsha Berzon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

The Liman Center promotes access to justice and the fair treatment of individuals and groups seeking to use the legal system. Through research projects, teaching, fellowships, and colloquia, the Liman Center supports efforts to bring about a more just legal system. In addition to awarding fellowships to Yale Law School graduates, the Center supports summer fellowships for students from eight participating colleges and universities.