New Endowments Established to Expand Work of Justice Advocate Coalition

Aug. 15, 2023

The creation of these endowments marks a significant milestone for JAC, providing a stable and consistent source of funding year-after-year.

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Three endowed fellowships have been created to support students in their summer public interest endeavors as part of the Justice Advocate Coalition (JAC) at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. The creation of these endowments marks a significant milestone for JAC, providing a stable and consistent source of funding year-after-year to assist students in pursuing unpaid summer positions without financial constraints.

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JAC, founded in 2017 as a student-led initiative, is committed to empowering marginalized communities and nurturing law students interested in public interest law careers. Since its inception, JAC has sponsored 49 fellowships, valued at an impressive $140,750, with fellows working at esteemed organizations such as the ACLU, EarthJustice, Southern Arizona Legal Aid, and Lambda Legal Education and Defense Fund.

One such student is Jared Gunn who was able to accept a position this summer at Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services (ALWAYS) which provides no-cost legal services to women and youth in the areas of family law, immigration law, and criminal record expungement. They also provide legal services to human trafficking victims of all ages. “I had the opportunity to play a part in the wonderful work ALWAYS is doing in their communities because of my JAC fellowship, which is exactly where I want to be at this point in my legal education," shared Gunn. “Without the assistance I received from my JAC fellowship, I would not have been able to accept such a position.”

Two endowments proudly commemorate a specific aspect of JAC's history. The Hegland, Silverman, Bennett, and Marcus JAC Public Interest Fellowship pays tribute to professors Paul Bennett, Kenny Hegland, Paul Marcus, and Andy Silverman ('69), who played pivotal roles in the success of the Public Interest Law Organization (PILO), JAC's precursor. Known as the "pillars" of public interest practice at University of Arizona Law, these faculty members diligently promoted awareness of the student-created organization and collaborated with donors to secure crucial funding. Bailey Martin, 3L, was named the inaugural Hegland, Silverman, Bennett, Marcus Fellow in summer 2023.

The Hammersley, Rutherford, and Zwart JAC Public Interest Fellowship was named after Mia Hammersley, Amanda Rutherford, and Wouter Zwart, all graduates of the University of Arizona Law Class of 2018, who spearheaded the establishment of JAC in 2017. Second year law student Konya Saidu was granted the inaugural Hammersley, Rutherford, Zwart Fellowship in summer 2023.

“It matters to me that that all the work these students have done does not disappear in the desert heat,” said JAC faculty advisor and Dean emerita Toni Massaro. “There will always be a need, and if anything, I see more students now really wanting to make a dent in the world's problems through law. These students deserve to have this endure.

Recalling her time working with Massaro, Mia Hammersley noted, “Because JAC is student-run, Professor Massaro has served as the anchor over years of growth and leadership changes. Her consistent presence and advice have allowed JAC to build in ways that likely would not have been possible otherwise. I can say with certainty that JAC would not exist in the same form without her tireless support. She is a deeply caring person who brings so much energy, inspiration, and humor to those lucky enough to know her, learn from her, and work with her. I am so grateful that she continues to be a mentor and role model to me, and to so many other students and members of JAC.”

The third JAC fellowship endowment was made possible by a generous gift of $100,000 in the summer of 2023. This fellowship serves as a heartfelt tribute to the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice, an influential philanthropic organization that holds special significance for JAC. In fact, it was the Haury Program that bestowed the inaugural grant to Hammersley, Rutherford, and Zwart during the coalition's formative stages, fortifying their vision and efforts.

“The endowments are a testament to the University of Arizona College of Law's unwavering commitment to social justice and public interest law,” said Marc Miller, dean of the college. “Through these fellowships, JAC aims to foster a generation of legal professionals who are not only skilled advocates, but also compassionate leaders dedicated to advancing the cause of justice for all. I hope it will inspire others to get involved with their philanthropy to support all students who wish to follow the path of public interest law. Our goal is that every student every summer who wants to explore public interest law can do so with fellowship support.”

To contribute to JAC's mission and be part of this transformative initiative, contact Megan O'Leary, who can provide further information on how to support and uplift the next generation of justice advocates.