Al Meyerhoff Public Interest Fellowships

Al Meyerhoff was a noted environmental and civil rights lawyer, whose landmark cases included the settlement of a class-action lawsuit against some of America's biggest clothing retailers for alleged sweatshop abuses.

In 2010, Marcia Brandwynne memorialized Al Meyerhoff’s deep commitment to public service by creating the Al Meyerhoff Public Interest Fellows program at UC Irvine School of Law, with the goal of providing funding to cover the base living expenses of students who take on non-paying summer public-interest jobs at agencies such as Southern Environmental Law Center, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the Alliance for Children’s Rights, among others.

Summer 2011 Fellows

Jacob Barak (Class of 2013)

I worked at the main office of the Orange County Public Defender. The summer stipend allowed me to do this work, which was my first choice. I interviewed clients and wrote motions to reduce or withdraw their prior convictions. They were very grateful and looked forward to being free from the consequences of their past crimes. I researched a variety of procedural and substantive issues including unlawful detention, prejudicial joinder, and rape shield laws. I also got to watch a murder trial.

Betsy Bentler (Class of 2013)

This summer I worked at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. I learned firsthand about trial advocacy by observing my supervisor prosecute a murder trial from start to finish. I investigated and helped draft a response to a petition for habeas corpus, and also helped investigate and prepare for several attempted murder preliminary hearings. It was an amazing experience to learn from and assist the Deputy District Attorneys that help keep our communities safe, and I am so grateful for my stipend.

Luke Boughen (Class of 2012)

The work I am doing with the Southern Environmental Law Center is mainly focused on transportation issues. I know that if our school did not have the funds available for students to do public interest work, it would be much more difficult to pass up firm positions. The belief in UCI's commitment to public interest work (and importantly here, funding) is a major reason I searched for public interest positions. Thank you so much for encouraging the public interest foundation that sets UCI apart!

Carly Edelstein (Class of 2013)

My summer at the Mississippi Center for Justice got off to an incredible start. After spending a week doing pro bono work there over winter break, I was very interested in continuing work on the same campaign. As the only intern in the office, I have been given quite a bit of responsibility to do lengthy legal research and craft the actual arguments that will underlie the refiling of our complaint. I hope the momentum of this summer continues because I am so excited by the work I am doing and inspired by the people I am surrounded by at the Mississippi Center for Justice!

Lauren Kaplan (Class of 2013)

This summer I worked at Disability Rights California in Los Angeles. Disability Rights California’s core mission is to advance the rights of persons with disabilities by making California a more barrier-free and inclusive place to live. Without my summer stipend I would not have had the opportunity to help end the disenfranchisement of individuals with disabilities.

Vivian Lee (Class of 2012)

This summer, I was one of four interns working with the Legal Team at the Port of Oakland. Working primarily in the Maritime Division, I gained direct experience with legal issues related to transactional work in cargo/shipping, trucking, rail transport, and land use development. This is a truly unique opportunity to work with a small team of senior attorneys and gain experience in a highly specialized area. Without the assistance of an Al Meyerhoff fellowship, it would have been an extreme hardship for me to accept an unpaid position, regardless of how valuable the training and experience promises to be.

Christine Luu (Class of 2013)

For the first half of the summer, I worked in the Legal Services department of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, where we focused on a wide range of direct legal services (consumer, housing, civil, etc.) and which also has a number of related projects: the anti-violence project, the domestic violence law and advocacy project, and the transgender economic empowerment project. I spent the second half of the summer at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in their impact litigation unit. I am extremely grateful for the summer stipend. I basically would not be able to do this work without it.

Richard Nguyen (Class of 2013)

I was at Public Law Center (PLC), working in the family law unit. The stipend means a great deal to me because it would be difficult without funding to be able to do free legal work. I hope PILF and Meyerhoff grant funding continues because the money is helping students do good legal work for people who sorely need it.

Tina Sapounakis (Class of 2013)

This summer I worked at Public Law Center in the Aids Legal Assistance Project (“ALAP”), assisting with the legal claims of indigent clients who suffer with HIV or AIDS. I have already helped numerous clients and witnessed many of the societal injustices Orange County’s indigent population faces. I have helped a homeless woman suffering from schizophrenia to recover her wrongfully withheld social security benefits. Without the support of the summer stipend, I would not have had the ability to work at a public interest law firm this summer. I am very grateful for the opportunity to advocate for such deserving clients and to serve the Orange County community.

Bradley Walters (Class of 2013)

This summer, I served as a law clerk for the Federal Public Defender's office for the Central District of California, doing research, witness preparation, and exhibit preparation for two cases, both of which will go to trial. The Al Meyerhoff grant has been critical to this experience. I feel privileged - both to serve our indigent clients and for the UCI Law donors who have granted me the opportunity to do so.