Ariana Brill L’19 has received a 2019 Equal Justice Works Fellowship, one of the most prestigious and competitive post-graduate legal fellowships in the country, to fund her work with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem. As a fellow, Brill will work to improve outcomes for court-involved youth in Harlem, New York, by expanding access to special education, disability, and mental health services through direct legal representation and policy advocacy.
Each year, Equal Justice Works selects a class of public service leaders who have designed two-year projects in partnership with legal services organizations that help build sustainable solutions in the communities where they serve. The projects are funded by the support of law firms, corporations, foundations, and individuals. This year, Brill was one of 76 new lawyers selected from over 450 applicants.
“It’s an incredible honor to be an Equal Justice Works Fellow, and to have the opportunity to fill a gap in services for court-involved youth in Harlem, who do not have regular access to legal representation to meet their special education, disability, and mental health needs,” said Brill. “During the Equal Justice Works Fellowship, I will work closely with young people and their families, as well as Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem defense attorneys and social workers. The project aims to ensure that youth are able to access appropriate services, supports, and programs which can improve educational outcomes and reduce incarceration.”
During her years at Penn Law, Brill was active in the Law School’s public interest community. As president of the Youth Advocacy Project (YAP), she engaged in pro bono work providing comprehensive support to youth facing adult criminal charges in furtherance of YAP’s mission to “develop holistic, humanizing narratives that mitigate the facts of each case; get cases transferred to the juvenile system; and make crucial connections to community resources providing education, healthcare, housing, and employment.” Brill also served as Managing Editor of The Journal of Law and Social Change.
“We are incredibly proud of Ariana, and this fellowship will allow her to continue the important public interest work she began here at Penn Law,” said Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Toll Public Interest Center. “Ariana has been singularly focused on gaining the skills to improve the lives of court-involved youth. We are so excited that she will now be launching a career doing exactly that, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact that she will have over the course of her career.”
Founded in 1986, Equal Justice Works is a nonprofit organization that brings together an extensive network of law students, lawyers, legal services organizations, and supporters to promote a lifelong commitment to public service and equal justice.
The Toll Public Interest Center is the hub of public service at Penn Law. Now in its 30th year, the public service program at Penn Law requires every student to complete 70 hours of pro bono work prior to graduation. Through TPIC pro bono projects, students like Brill are able to hone their advocacy skills and gain valuable experience throughout law school. This work, combined with clinics and classes, enables students to hit the ground running as they set off on impactful public interest careers.