For 25 years, Latham & Watkins has sponsored public interest fellowships through Equal Justice Works. This organization seeks “to create opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service.” Its fellowships address the shortage of lawyers working on behalf of traditionally underserved populations by providing financial and technical support to the fellows as they meet the most pressing needs in their communities.
In 2021, as part of our More Than Words pledge, we expanded our decades-long partnership with Equal Justice Works to sponsor six new fellows as they embark on careers in public interest at legal aid organizations in the US.
“Equal Justice Works and its fellows provide critical support to legal aid organizations on the front lines of increasing access to justice,” said Wendy Atrokhov, Public Service Counsel. “Our fellows’ projects demonstrate both the range of needs and the potential for making significant impact in vulnerable communities. We’re proud of their work and excited for the opportunity to collaborate with them.”
The firm’s 2022–24 Equal Justice Works Fellows and their projects are listed below.
Mason Gates, Legal Aid of Arkansas
Through his fellowship with Legal Aid of Arkansas, Mason will address Black land loss and help safeguard intergenerational wealth in the Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas. Mason’s fellowship will include a combination of direct legal services as well as community education and capacity-building. Mason will help to clear titles on land and write wills for underrepresented communities so that additional heirs’ property is not created. He will also focus on community education.
Audrey Hertzberg, Sanctuary for Families
Audrey’s fellowship with Sanctuary for Families will expand the nonprofit’s EMPOWER Center and address gender-based violence by providing representation through direct services, training to expand the network of legal support available, and policy advocacy to combat institutional discrimination against survivors in removal and termination of parental rights processes. Audrey’s fellowship will also include family reunification for formerly incarcerated survivors and resources for collateral civil legal services related to surviving abuse.
Hetali Lodaya, Legal Aid of North Carolina
At Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Right to Education Project, Hetali will advocate on behalf of low-income special education students and their families, supporting them in accessing testing, services, and other rights guaranteed by state and federal special education laws. Simultaneously, she will work with community-based organizations in these counties who are interested in building their collective power and achieving systems-level change for the delivery of services related to special education.
Asiyahola Sankara, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
Through legislative advocacy, direct litigation, and outreach, Asiyahola’s fellowship at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will combat criminalizing transit and traffic enforcement practices that restrict the mobility, economic opportunities, and health of local communities. As part of this effort, he will provide direct representation to individuals facing transportation-related fines and fees and advocate for alternative transportation system resources.
Uruj Sheikh, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
As a fellow at NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Uruj will combat discriminatory voting laws in the Deep South. Her strategy includes using targeted litigation to enforce voting rights protections under federal and state constitutional and statutory protections; employing rapid response advocacy at polling stations by monitoring for suppression and identifying organizing and legal interventions; and advocating for voter protection legislation and against restrictive voting bills in partnership with grassroots coalitions.
Chris Shenton, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
Chris’s project at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice will focus on election administration issues that create serious barriers to the democratic process. Chris will use a variety of legal strategies to ensure that the experiences of voters are factored into the decision-making calculus for designing and administering election systems. This project will build infrastructure specific to issues of administrative disenfranchisement. Chris’s fellowship is co-sponsored with Clorox.