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And Justice For All

April 9, 2008

Alicia Duplessis

Among the biggest challenges to honoring the nation’s promise of “justice for all” are the numerous financial and professional obstacles preventing young attorneys from helping underserved populations. Through support from a fellowship program, a Tulane law student and alumnus are dodging a few of those obstacles as they begin careers as public-interest attorneys.

Kristin Wenstrom and Morgan Williams

Kristin Wenstrom, left, a third-year law student, and Morgan Williams, right, a December 2007 law graduate, will begin two-year fellowships that offer support to lawyers involved in public service. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Last month, Kristin Wenstrom, who is in her third-year at Tulane Law School, and Morgan Williams, who graduated in December 2007, were notified of their acceptance into the fellowship program sponsored by Equal Justice Works, a nonprofit organization that fosters the next generation of public-interest lawyers.

Williams, a New Orleans native, will be working with the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, which identifies discriminatory practices in the New Orleans housing market. He will specifically work with disabled individuals seeking accessible and affordable housing.

“Before I applied, I went in and asked what their greatest unmet need was,” says Williams. “When they told me it was housing for the disabled, I knew right away that I’d make that my mission. An opportunity like this is rewarding because you get to see the law used to make change in an unjust situation.”

Williams learned about the Fair Housing Action Center through his work with the Tulane Civil Litigation Clinic, which gives upper-level law students the opportunity to represent indigent clients.

“Being from New Orleans is the driving force behind my interest in helping people return to the region by targeting unfair housing issues,” says Williams. “My work through the clinic exposed me to challenges faced by residents trying to secure a place to live amidst the affordable housing crisis and to a great organization that is confronting these challenges.”

Wenstrom, originally from Milford, Conn., will work with the Innocence Project New Orleans, a nonprofit law firm that works to overturn wrongful convictions of prisoners serving life sentences in Louisiana and southern Mississippi.

“I came into law school wanting to do social justice work and to represent the poor,” says Wenstrom. “I interned with the Innocence Project for two summers and I knew then that I wanted to continue working with them once I graduate.”

During her two-year fellowship with the Innocence Project, Wenstrom will work specifically with the cases of individuals convicted of crimes as teenagers.

Since 2001 the Innocence Project has achieved the release of 12 innocent prisoners through the use of witness statements and forensic evidence.


Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000