From left: Rekha Arulanantham, Emmanuel Mauleon, Natalie Petrucci and Sarah Rogozen.
Opening the doors to impactful careers in public interest law and government service, the University of California President's Public Service Fellowship program has provided vital support to graduates from the University of California's four law schools since 2016. More than 60 UCLA Law graduates have received the one-year fellowships, which place students in social justice and government organizations in California and around the world, offering $45,000 stipends and support for bar exam expenses. Here are first-hand accounts of the program and the opportunities it created from some of UCLA Law's UC President's Public Service Fellows.
Rekha Arulanantham '17
Fellowship: ACLU National Prison Project, Washington, D.C
Current Role: Munger, Tolles & Olson Fellow, ACLU of Southern California
Through my UC President's Public Service Fellowship with the ACLU National Prison Project, I worked on several complex civil litigation cases on behalf of vulnerable populations – prisoners, incarcerated children and immigration detainees. In addition to opportunities for brief writing, plaintiff finding and discovery review, I participated in a six-week trial in Mississippi to protect the Eighth Amendment rights of 1,200 men held in a prison designated for those with the most serious mental health issues. This trial offered a rare opportunity to prepare prisoners for their testimony, collaborate closely with expert witnesses on their reports and testimony, and cross-examine an adverse witness.
Coming out of my first year of practice, I had substantially more practical experience than the majority of my peers, and that experience was essential to stand out from other applicants to attain my current position at the ACLU of Southern California, where I work on challenging gang enforcement practices that disproportionately target young people of color. Even as a second-year attorney, more experienced attorneys come to me for trial advice. I feel competent in my position and confident in my current work because I spent my first year doing work that is often not entrusted to first-year attorneys.
Natalie Petrucci '17
Fellowship: Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, Denver
Current Role: Staff Attorney, RMIAN
As a staff attorney/representation fellow at the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, I represent more than 50 unaccompanied children and families in their immigration proceedings and lead our legal orientation program at the Denver Immigration Court. I am privileged to learn under the guidance of incredibly talented mentors, and I feel I am constantly growing as an attorney and advocate. I am doing this in a new city I love, and less than two years after graduating from UCLA School of Law. While practicing non-profit immigration law is a challenge, I feel incredibly lucky to be in this work and at my organization.
I would not be in the position I am today without having been selected as a University of California President's Public Service Law Fellow in 2017. I had previously interned at RMIAN following my 2L year and had a great desire to work at RMIAN after graduation. At the same time, I knew that—as with many non-profit legal organizations—funding was scarce and RMIAN would be unable to hire brand-new attorneys who had not yet received their bar exam results. Receiving the University of California President's Public Service Law Fellowship provided me the opportunity to co-create a one-year fellowship with RMIAN's Children's Program, which then allowed me to position myself to apply for an opening that arose within my first six months at the organization. I was immediately hired for that role. I am very grateful to the University of California for paving the way for my early career success, and for believing in the impact that young lawyers from UC law schools can have on communities in critical need of legal services.
Emmanuel Mauleon '18
Fellowship: Brennan Center for Justice in New York City
As a UC President's Fellow in the Liberty & National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, I have been fortunate to work on issues directly related to my studies and research while at UCLA Law—counterterrorism policy, national security, domestic terrorism and hate crimes—while maintaining the critical lens imparted by the amazing faculty at UCLA Law and its truly incredible Critical Race Studies Program. I have engaged in deep research and outreach to Black Muslim communities around the country, working to understand how they have been impacted by federal counterterrorism policy and the stigmatization it has fostered.
Our hope is that our research will provide an underpinning for new approaches that take seriously all violent acts of terror that occur in this country—not just those committed by so-called "international terrorists." We hope the hate-crime statute database we develop will serve as a tool to help researchers, journalists, policymakers and legislators to better understand the problem of far-right violence in this country and push for better solutions to address the harms these crimes cause.
Thanks in no small part to the work I am doing through the fellowship, I was able to secure a federal clerkship in the Southern District of New York. I sincerely appreciate the support and the opportunity afforded to me by both UCLA Law and the University of California Office of the President.
Sarah Rogozen '17
Fellowship: Bet Tzedek Legal Services
Current Role: Staff Attorney, Public Counsel
My UC President's Public Service Fellowship enabled me to work in the Employment Rights Project at Bet Tzedek Legal Services, where I represented low-wage workers experiencing wage theft and sexual harassment. These violations are the dirty secret fueling Los Angeles's economy. I was able to hold abusive employers accountable and support workers fighting for better working conditions.
The fellowship was also a period of deep learning. I received fantastic mentorship at my host organization, and gained experience negotiating, litigating and partnering with community organizations. Those skills were foundational as I searched for my first staff attorney job, and I use them every day in my work, creating innovative ways to prevent homelessness in Los Angeles.