McGinley Fellowship Reception

McGinley Public Service Law

Public Service Law Fellowships Allow Students to Give Back, Live the Mission

Duquesne Lawyer

By Rosemary K. Ravasio, Media Relations Manager

Fair housing, immigration, political asylum, and police-enforced policies are but a few of the issues that Duquesne law students have worked on through a unique summer program offered by the School of Law.

The Public Service Law Fellowship program provides student attorneys with valuable work experience through summer positions in government while supporting the law school's ongoing commitment to public service.

"The School of Law has a long tradition of producing lawyers who engage in public service in a wide variety of roles-whether for an entire career or for blocks of time throughout a career," explained Law Dean Ken Gormley, who created the program. "This unique program allows students to work in and make contributions to every facet of government service, and opens doors for them for future possibilities."

The inaugural class in the summer of 2012 served as fellows for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission, the U.S. Attorney's Office, State Senator Jay Costa's Office, and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, and in other placements. 

The following summer, 10 additional public service fellowships were available thanks to the generosity of alumnus John "Jack" McGinley, Jr., a 1968 law school graduate and University board member; his parents Jack and Marie, his aunt Rita M. McGinley, and the Rita M. McGinley Foundation. McGinley has reallocated existing funds that he and his family have donated to the University to establish the John R. and Marie McGinley Endowed Public Service Law Fellowship and the Bernard and Katherine McGinley Endowed Public Service Law Fellowship, which honors his grandparents.

"Whether it's been on the bench, in government in general or even local government, public service has always been a great attribute of many Duquesne law grads," said McGinley, a member of Eckert Seamans Cherin Mellott, LLC. "Anything we can do to help prospective lawyers learn about what life's experiences are in the various fields of government will benefit them directly as well as the communities in which they decide to live. It's important for these student attorneys to get this kind of experience, and this program is a great way to develop leaders for our community."

Students have certainly been learning through this opportunity. For instance, at the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia, which provides free and low-cost legal service to immigrants, Lauren Sullivan has conducted client intake and has written a brief to be filed with the Executive Office of Immigration Review regarding asylum, cancellation, or removal and withholding of removal based on the Convention Against Torture.

"This fellowship has been one of the most fulfilling experiences that I have had," said Sullivan. "I've learned so much about immigration law, and I feel that I'm really making a difference in people's lives."

Law student Elizabeth Koefer is assisting a staff attorney at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania with landlord-tenant court. "HIV-positive individuals are often viewed with a great deal of stigma, and I'm thankful to serve their legal needs while treating them with the respect and dignity that they are due," she said.

Gormley is pleased that students will continue to have the opportunity for public service.

"My hope is that as the program continues to grow, more students will avail themselves of these opportunities," he said.

Read more about fellowships at Duquesne University School of Law.