The Hastings College of Law created a fellowship for students studying to become attorneys that allows them to work in nonprofit and local government organizations, according to The Contra Costa Times. One such student, Saron Tesfai, has worked as a prosecutor on two dozen preliminary hearings for felony crimes. Those crimes include robbery, grand theft auto, and drug possession. Tesfai has worked for the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office during the fellowship.
“Other third-year students are lucky if they get to do one or two. By the time I’m done with this fellowship, I will have a good amount of experience to distinguish myself from my peers,” Tesfai said. ” I feel like this is the best learning experience I’ve had since I’ve been in law school.”
The fellowship, called Lawyers for America, is the brainchild of professors from Hastings College of Law. It was created in order to provide law students with hands-on experience in the public sector. On the flip side of things, the fellowship also allows for cash-strapped municipalities and non-profit organizations to add to their staff.
The District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office in Contra Costa are the first groups to use the fellowship. The students who take part in the fellowship do so for two years. The first year comes prior to graduation and the second year comes after graduation. “We have integrated them into the practice of law as much as we can,” said Contra Costa County Assistant District Attorney Tom Kensok. “They are here full time doing as much as they can and getting a very in-depth introduction into the practice of criminal law.” Fellows who work with Kensok are responsible for writing legal motions, perform subpoena rosters, and argue in court with licensed attorneys.
Fellows from Lawyers for America will be placed in the following organizations soon:
– Berkeley City Attorney’s Office
– Center for Biological Diversity’s San Francisco Office
– Legal Services for Prisoners with Children in San Francisco
– First District Appellate Project
– Contra Costa County Superior Court