AUSTIN, Texas — Two recent graduates of The University of Texas School of Law – Sean Pevsner and Bernadette Segura – have been chosen as members of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship Class of 2005.
The Fellowship class is a diverse group of 49 recent law graduates representing 38 law schools. They will work in 14 states and the District of Columbia providing legal services in 15 issue areas, including children and youth, civil rights, community and economic development, education, health care, housing and homelessness, immigrants' rights and workplace safety.
The goal of the Fellowship is to provide access to the justice system for those who would not otherwise have legal representation. The Fellowship program provides salary and benefits, and the Fellows are eligible for a loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) that helps them manage law school debts while working for the public good.
Pevsner, a 2004 UT Law graduate, is spending his two-year fellowship working with Advocacy Inc. in Austin and Segura, a 2005 UT Law graduate, is spending her two-year fellowship working with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in San Antonio. Both fellowships are sponsored by the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation, which administers funds to create community capacity to provide civil legal services for low-income Texans.
As an attorney with Advocacy Inc., a federally funded, nonprofit organization that protects the civil and human rights of people with disabilities in Texas, Pevsner represents students with disabilities to ensure that they receive equal access to education and employment opportunities. Pevsner complements Advocacy's services by providing free legal services to these individuals as well as teaching them self-advocacy skills. Pevsner is a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy who operates a motorized wheelchair by using head movements. Due to his quadriplegia, Pevsner cannot write but must rely on an interpreter or a specialized computer to do his work.
Segura works on the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid's San Antonio Legal Assistance to the Homeless project which attempts to find safe, affordable housing for San Antonio's homeless and to narrow the gap between the homeless residents eligible for mainstream benefits and those actually receiving them. While a law student, Segura represented and advocated for indigent clients at the Law School's Housing Law Clinic and worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas as the State Legal Panel Coordinator. Segura interned in El Paso at the Federal Public Defender in the Western District of Texas, advocating for indigent criminal defendants. She also interned with the El Paso County Domestic Relations Office working with families in El Paso and far west Texas.
"Students interested in pursuing a public interest career should strongly consider applying for an Equal Justice Works Fellowship. The fellowship is prestigious and generous because it includes a loan repayment component," said Tina V. Fernandez, director of public service programs with the UT Law Career Services Office. "We are very pleased with the success that University of Texas Law students have had in applying for this fellowship," Fernandez said.
Equal Justice Works was founded in 1986 by law students dedicated to working for equal justice on behalf of underserved communities and causes. Today, Equal Justice Works is the national leader in creating summer and postgraduate public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers, as well as in urging more public interest programming at law schools.
Since the Fellowships Program inception in 1993, more than 150 law firms and corporations have funded 550 Fellows, who have spent 1,144,000 collective hours serving individuals in need. To fund the fellowships, Equal Justice Works (with help from an Open Society Institute matching grant) has raised and then re-granted over $37 million to hundreds of nonprofit organizations in 47 states.