Nixon Peabody and LatinoJustice create civil rights fellowship for Latinx community

June 25, 2020

Senior Manager, Media Relations
Nicholas Braude

Washington, DC. Nixon Peabody’s pro bono initiative has teamed up with LatinoJustice PRLDEF, one of the country’s leading civil rights organizations, to create an innovative new fellowship program for Latinx law students.

The Nixon Peabody Summer Civil Rights Fellowship will identify one Latinx law student each year for the next decade to participate in LatinoJustice’s ten-week summer program, a full-time internship that provides valuable experience working on civil rights cases involving the Latinx community. This year’s fellowship recipient is Jennifer Acevedo, a rising third-year law student at CUNY School of Law.

“The need for pro bono legal services is greater than ever, and we are steadfast in our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Nixon Peabody Pro Bono Partner Matthew Richards. “LatinoJustice has been a valued partner to Nixon Peabody for many years, in both our pro bono work and our efforts to diversify the legal profession.”

The fellowship stems from Nixon Peabody’s successful representation of Roxana Orellana Santos, a pro bono client first connected to the firm through LatinoJustice. Following Santos’s unlawful arrest in Frederick County, Maryland, in 2008, Nixon Peabody attorneys worked for more than ten years on her matter until a federal court recently found Frederick County liable for the deputies’ conduct, which violated Santos’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. As part of Roxana’s settlement, the court awarded legal fees to Nixon Peabody. Since the firm does not accept legal fees in pro bono matters, Nixon Peabody donated the fees to LatinoJustice as the referring nonprofit.

“We are proud to partner with such a preeminent nonprofit organization, and this fellowship is a natural extension of our relationship with LatinoJustice,” said senior counsel Jeff Lesk, who was part of the team working on the program and broader partnership. “LatinoJustice plays a critical role in providing legal assistance to the Latinx community, a need that is only amplified by the current public health and economic crises. This partnership will also promote the goals of both Nixon Peabody and LatinoJustice to promote equality and pursue justice.”

“Nixon Peabody’s donation is a wonderful reflection of the firm’s commitment to enhancing the pipeline and the mutual benefits of pro bono collaboration,” said Jose Perez, LatinoJustice PRLDEF deputy general counsel and co-lead counsel on the Santos case. “The firm was instrumental in helping us establish a new national legal precedent and protections for our most vulnerable clients, and this donation is such a reaffirmation of all that we do, and strive for, at LatinoJustice.”

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