His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress. In the Spring of 2020, in Celebration of the 55th Anniversary of this life-altering event, LSA began a national search for the first John Lewis Fellows, resulting in 6 law students from across the country committed to providing free legal assistance to individuals in underserved and underrepresented communities to ensure Equal and Social Justice for all citizens in Alabama.
The initial goal of the proposal was to provide legal and social justice services to the Blackbelt and the Wiregrass citizens. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad of legal issues surrounding the virus, along with the increasing social justice issues across the country, we opted to use COVID-19 funding to combat these issues, therefore, this first year of fellows will provide services and support throughout the entire state. The goal of the John Lewis Legal Services Fellowship Program remains to train recent law graduates who have an interest in Rural Economic Justice for a career in public interest and social justice law to provide social, economic and legal change; while working on legal issues that will improve the quality of life for low-income individuals. In addition to training the fellows, we are also providing the fellows a glimpse into the life and work of Congressman Lewis, through a speaker’s series and tours that travel in the Congressman’s footsteps in Alabama. As the country mourns this giant of a man, we are humbled to honor his legacy and work through the LSA John Lewis Legal Services Fellowship Program.
Chisolm Allenlundy joins the Birmingham office for his fellowship. Allenlundy has legal experience working in the Tennessee Office of the Post-Conviction Defender, the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. He volunteers as an alumni mentor through the Roosevelt Institute and is a member of the Alabama chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Allenlundy believes deeply that income should not be a barrier to justice, and is inspired to be working in the legacy of John Lewis. “For me, working in John Lewis’ legacy means questioning why poverty exists when it doesn’t need to, and using my legal skills to bring about a world in which the Beloved Community is not only possible, but is reality.”
Kyle Anderson joins the John Lewis Legal Fellowship in the Huntsville office after several positions in public defender’s offices during law school. His time spent volunteering earned him an Order of the Samaritan award for volunteer service in law school. Anderson’s passion for legal advocacy comes from his understanding of the ramifications civil legal actions can have on low-income people, especially when they lack adequate legal counsel. He joins the fellowship to address the issues that force low-income people to engage with our complex legal system at disproportionate rates. Anderson appreciates having the opportunity to “rescue people from the brink of disaster every day I walk into the office.”
Justin Arrington joins the fellowship with a history of working toward justice in rural areas. During his time as a legal fellow with Disability Rights Mississippi, he oversaw a personal home care project where he collected data to influence legislation that would improve the lives of low-income people with physical or mental accessibility needs. Arrington is proud to follow in the steps of John Lewis, working to build on existing success to create more justice and inspire the next generation in Alabama. “Working in the legacy of John Lewis is important to me, because, in the words of James Baldwin, ‘if you know from whence you came, there’s no limit to how far you can go.’ I see it as my duty to build on old policies and push forward new ones that will truly affect change and make America a better place.”
Chloe Doust brings a working knowledge of debt relief advocacy and immigration law to her LSA fellowship. She has also volunteered with the Center for Heirs in South Carolina through the Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers Program. Doust was introduced to the John Lewis Fellowship by LSA Director of Advocacy – a conversation that inspired her to apply. She speaks four languages, including Arabic and Farsi. While many have questioned how she began working in Dothan after growing up over seas, Doust is proud to share her first-generation American experience through her work. “As a minority, I believe that the reason I have the chance as a first-generation American to represent clients and a right to stand up and work, is because people like John Lewis thought about people like me; and, paved the way for us to have the opportunity to work in this capacity.”
Tierany Hatcher joins the Mobile office with a working knowledge of the Mobile County Probate Court, as well as experience in private practice specializing in criminal defense and family law. She was very active in her academic community during law school, volunteering with the Junior League of Mobile, South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers, Strickland Youth Center, and the Self-Help Resource Center. Hatcher also acted as Project Coordinator of Women in Law. She’s passionate about working at LSA after seeing the ways low-income people are at higher risk of being falsely accused, excessively punished, and wrongfully convicted. Hatcher is also humbled to be carrying on the legacy of John Lewis, “It is both an honor and privilege to work in the legacy of such an iconic civil rights leader and pioneer. I have chosen to dedicate my legal career to promote social justice and change in the community I serve.”
Marilia Rosa de Oliveira Lara joins the LSA Mobile office for her fellowship. She is licensed in not only Alabama, but also Brazil. Lara has a background working in multiple different areas of civil law as a solo practitioner in Brazil. She has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity’s wills and estate planning clinics, and as a Spanish translator at the Prodisee Pantry. Lara brings with her a passion for creative lawyering and developing strategies to support her clients. According to Lara, her parents instilled compassion in her throughout her life, which she now credits for inspiring her to pursue work that supports people in need.
Nicholas McKinney joins LSA Montgomery through the fellowship after earning multiple post-grad degrees in a variety of subject areas. McKinney completed two MA programs in political science and legal studies before entering law school. After earning his JD he completed an addition certificate program in terrorism and counterterrorism. His work history includes several law clerk positions, attorney advisor, and court probation revocation hearing officer. He’s also volunteered with the American Red Cross, within his law school, and is a member of the Bannaker Lodge #3. McKinney is inspired by John Lewis and his message that it is “ordinary people with extraordinary vision who can redeem the soul of America.” He considers this work a moral obligation and the result of him answering the highest calling of his heart. “As an attorney, I am in a position to be the voice of the voiceless. Low-income people are ignored and overlooked the most. Just like everyone, they need someone to speak up for them and to see them. Not as low-income people, but as people! That is why I became an attorney and why I am passionate about providing legal aid to people who just happened to have found themselves in a low-income position.”