Law students Alex Romero and Hyun-mi Kim have both earned prestigious Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellowships to engage in a public interest project of their own design for two years following graduation.
Romero and Kim are two of only 76 graduating law students from around the country to receive this year's EJW fellowship; more than 450 students applied.
Working with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in its Wenatchee office, Romero will provide direct legal representation and educational outreach to address the immediate legal needs of undocumented youth in rural Washington.
Romero said he has known since he was 10 years old that he wanted to be an immigration lawyer. And he has known since his first year of law school that he wanted to be an EJW fellow.
"My family immigrated to this country over 25 years ago, and I have seen firsthand the rights and privileges that were denied to them because of their lack of status," he said. "As a Latinx first-generation college student and son of an immigrant family, this fight for migrant justice is more than political, it is personal."
Kim developed her two-year EJW project with assistance from the Center for Indian Law and Policy, the American Indian Law Journal, and her host organization, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (APILO), based in San Francisco.
She'll work with APILO to protect the legal rights of indigenous children, parents, and tribes that are afforded under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
Kim will implement, design, and provide ICWA educational training for social workers, county and state judicial personnel, and lawyers in private practice who specialize in child custody and dependency cases. She will conduct ICWA workshops to indigenous parents and families in the Bay Area to ensure that they know when and how to assert their legal rights.
"We're so proud of Alex and Hyun-mi for receiving this honor and for their hard work and dedication to public interest law," said Dean Annette Clark '89. "Both of their projects will provide vital legal services to underserved communities."
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., EJW aims to break down the financial and structural barriers that prevent talented candidates from pursuing careers in the public interest sector. Throughout the two-year project term, Fellows receive the support they need to focus on helping their community, including a competitive salary, benefits, and loan repayment assistance.
"Equal Justice Works Fellowships are a unique opportunity for recent law graduates to pursue their passion for public service to effect real change in our communities," said Mia Sussman, director of Fellowships at Equal Justice Works. "We are proud to support Alex and Hyun-mi and look forward to seeing the impact their projects will have on the individuals and families they will serve."
Previous EJW two-year fellowship recipients from Seattle University School of Law include Erin Shea McCann '07 and Nick Allen '10, who worked with Columbia Legal Services on court representation for foster youth and on reforming legal financial obligations, respectively.