UCLA School of Law Student Chosen as First Gideon’s Promise Fellowship Recipient

​Lauri Gavel                 Valerie Harris
UCLA School of Law     Gideon’s Promise
(310) 206-2611           (404) 966-2445
gavel@law.ucla.edu     valerie@kinseygrouppr.com

LOS ANGELES, January 29, 2014 – UCLA School of Law student Arienna Grody ’14, a student in the law school’s David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, has been chosen as the first Gideon’s Promise Fellowship recipient. She will work in the Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office in Birmingham, Alabama as part of the Gideon’s Promise Law School Partnership Project (LSPP).

The LSPP is a partnership between Gideon’s Promise, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to public defense reform, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and participating law schools and Southern public defender offices. The goal of the program is to help recruit talented, third-year law students interested in public service careers and place them in positions at underserved public defender offices. UCLA School of Law was the first law school to join the coalition, which was launched in November 2013.

“We are so proud that Arienna has been chosen as the inaugural Gideon’s Promise Fellowship recipient, and we are honored to be a partner in this very important initiative to improve the quality of public defense in our country,” UCLA School of Law Dean Rachel F. Moran said.
Students participating in the LSPP receive a fellowship from their law schools and a commitment of a permanent job within one year from the public defenders’ offices where they are placed. Additionally, the students will receive the Gideon’s Promise signature Core 101 training: a three-year program that offers tools to provide meaningful representation to public clients under difficult circumstances and learn strategies to resist pressures to adapt to the status quo (quickly processing defendants through the system).

“I am thrilled to be UCLA Law’s 2014 Gideon’s Promise Fellow. While I have no doubt that the next three years will bring new challenges, I am confident that with my three years as part of the Public Interest and Critical Race Studies communities, as well as the infrastructure of the Gideon’s Promise program, I will be equipped with the tools I need to make a meaningful contribution to equalizing justice in Birmingham, Alabama,” Arienna Grody said. “I am honored to represent UCLA Law in this exciting new project and I can only hope that my work will prove me worthy of this one-of-a-kind opportunity.”

Arienna, who grew up in Oakland, California, gained experience working as an advocate for criminal defendants during law school. In addition to participating in UCLA’s Criminal Defense Clinic, Arienna spent two summers at the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, where she assisted with intake interviews, plea bargain negotiations, and preparation of trial motions. She also worked in the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, splitting her time between the juvenile office in South Central and the central felony unit in downtown Los Angeles. During her second year of law school, she joined a legal team that was preparing a man serving a life sentence for his parole hearing. Arienna is also a member of the Criminal Justice Society, the National Lawyers Guild, and Students Helping Assure Racial Equity, Justice and Diversity. She received a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Goucher College in 2010, where she was honored with the Hughes Award for Academic Excellence in Intellectual Inquiry in International Relations and was a member of the International Scholars Program.

“We were overjoyed that UCLA joined the LSPP program as our first law school and excited to have Ms. Grody join our community of defenders committed to pushing the criminal justice system to live up to its constitutional obligation,” said Jonathan Rapping, president and founder of Gideon’s Promise. “The eager support from law schools and interest from exceptional students underscores the critical need to reform our broken public defense system.”

Currently, Gideon’s Promise has joined forces with five law schools (UCLA, American University, New York University, University of Chicago and Northwestern University) and nine public defense offices in the South. The goal is to expand the program to include at least 20 law schools, 20 defender offices, and place 20 law students in their public service careers by 2016. 

About UCLA School of Law
Founded in 1949, UCLA School of Law is the youngest major law school in the nation and has established a tradition of innovation in its approach to teaching, research and scholarship. With approximately 100 faculty and 1,100 students, the school pioneered clinical teaching, is a leader in interdisciplinary research and training, and is at the forefront of efforts to link research to its effects on society and the legal profession. For more information, visit www.law.ucla.edu.

About Gideon’s Promise
Gideon’s Promise is an organization dedicated to assuring that every individual receives quality legal representation regardless of economic status as mandated in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Gideon vs. Wainwright (355 US, 1963). Through continuing education, ongoing mentorships and strategic partnerships; the organization gives public defenders the tools they need to provide the highest quality public defense in their communities. At the base of the organization’s outreach is its signature Core 101 program, a three-year training program which arms public defenders with the skills and tools necessary to challenge the culture of simply processing defendants through the system. Additional programs and outreach include the Graduate 201 training program, the Summer Law Clerk program, the Leadership Program for chief defenders, the Trainer Development program for public defender trainers, supervisors and law school clinicians and the Law School Partnership Project.  Gideon’s Promise has grown from 16 lawyers trained at inception to nearly 250, each working with an annual average of 200 clients. The organization was featured recently in an HBO documentary, “Gideon’s Army.” For more information, visit www.gideonspromise.org, Facebook.com/GideonsPromise or Twitter: @Gideons_Promise.