Public Interest Law Clinic

Public Interest Law Clinic offers students who have completed California Regulatory Law & the Public Interest an opportunity to design an individualized research and/or advocacy project and earn additional units during their third year. Clinic projects can be anything from a straight research-and-writing project (which may be published in the California Regulatory Law Reporter as a feature article, and which may satisfy USD’s written work requirement) to the drafting, introduction, and lobbying of legislation; the drafting and argument of a petition for rulemaking; or participation in public interest litigation in which CPIL is involved—so long as the project is related to regulatory and/or public interest law. The number of units for any particular Clinic project depends on the project, and is decided on a case-by-case basis. The project may be spread over multiple semesters. Public Interest Law Clinic is a non-graded course (high pass/pass/fail).


Julianne D. Fellmeth Public Interest Law Scholarship

The Julie D. Fellmeth Public Interest Law Scholar Program awards a $5,000 scholarship to a 2L, 3L, or 4L law student who has demonstrated a commitment to Public Interest law and social innovation.  The Julie D. Fellmeth Scholar will dedicate 150 hours in law school to developing an innovative “big idea” for using the law as a tool for positive social change, working under the supervision of the Center for Public Interest Law attorneys.  The Scholar will also complete a reflection essay identifying what he or she learned, and the takeaways he or she will bring to their practice of law upon graduation.

Enrollment in California Regulatory Law and the Public Interest is a prerequisite for this scholarship.  Scholars have the option to receive academic credit for their work.  If for some reason the Scholar is unable to complete the requisite hours, he or she will be responsible for returning the scholarship on a pro-rata basis relative to hours worked.

The Julie D. Fellmeth Public Interest Law Scholar Program has been established to honor Julie D’Angelo Fellmeth, who served as CPIL’s administrative director for 30 years.

2020

Marcus Friedman

Marcus Friedman (JD Candidate '21)

Marcus Friedman is a third-year law student whose project is driven by his very personal ties to the policy changes he is proposing.  Not only did he survive the Las Vegas shooting on October 1, 2017, but his hometown is Parkland, Florida, where just months after the Las Vegas shooting, another mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School tragically impacted his community. 

As the recipient of the 2020-2021 Julie D. Fellmeth Public Interest Law Scholarship, Friedman is transforming these horrific experiences into the catalyst to create positive social change through the legal system. Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, he has been diligently researching gun violence prevention laws, identifying the ways in which the laws are deficient and can be strengthened, and collaborating with key partners across the country, including the Brady Campaign, March for Our Lives, and Giffords.  He has worked with CPIL attorneys and policy advocates to draft a bill, AB 1057 (Petrie-Norris), sponsored by CPL and now pending before the California legislature, which will close a loophole for emergency Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVRO’s) by including “ghost guns” in the definition of seizable items if a person is a threat to themselves or others.  At the outset of the project, Friedman stated, “I look forward to using my legal experience to ensure the safety of Californians and protect them from the experience I endured.”

2019

Kelsey Burns

Kelsey Burns (JD '20)

At USD Law, Kelsey Burns served as President of the Environmental Law Society, President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, Vice President of USD Law Democrats, and a volunteer at Casa Cornelia Law Center in San Diego. In addition to receiving the Julie D. Fellmeth Public Interest Scholarship, she was awarded the Law School Honor Scholarship and Alumni Achievement Scholarship. She also was recognized as CPIL’s Outstanding Public Interest Advocate in 2020.

Burns’ project proposal was to focus on researching the success of the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act of 2010 (TSCA), over its first ten years.  TSCA was enacted after the U.S. Department of Labor released a report identifying 122 goods from 58 countries believed to be produced by forced or child labor. The Act requires large retailers and manufacturers doing business in California to disclose on their respective websites the efforts taken to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chains, in an effort to educate consumers on how to purchase goods produced by companies that responsibly manage their supply chains, and, thereby, improve the lives of victims of slavery and human trafficking. Ms. Burns will evaluate whether the TSCA has achieved its intended purpose and, if not, propose potential amendments to remedy any failures.

In addition to researching the TSCA and identifying areas for improvement for possible legislation, Burns participated in a unique, multi-university, interdisciplinary Innovate 4 Justice design-thinking course in the Fall of 2019 focused specifically on Human Trafficking.  Through that experience, she was also instrumental in planning the University’s campus-wide “Stopping Traffic” summit – a two-day solutions summit hosted by USD School of Law and the Kroc School of Peace Studies, focused on answering the question “How can USD lead the fight to end Human Trafficking?”

 

 

2018

 Kayla Watson

Kayla Watson (JD '19)

As a second-year law student at USD School of Law, Kayla was the first winner of the Julie D. Fellmeth Public Interest Scholarship.  Kayla was a member of the San Diego International Law Journal and the Moot Court Associate Board.  She competed in the Pacific Northwest Region of the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition, where the team won first place and advanced to the International Competition.  She also earned the Center for Public Interest Law’s (CPIL) Outstanding Public Interest Advocate award in 2019.

Watson’s project proposal focused on researching and proposing a series of recommendations to improve consumers’ access to the information available in the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) online licensing and discipline system, BreEZe.  Specifically, she aims to partner with consumer review websites such as Yelp to raise awareness about BreEZe, and the information it provides, so that consumers can make informed decisions about their providers.

Ultimately, her research found a large disconnect between some doctors with five-star reviews online, and their actual disciplinary history—many of whom had been placed on probation by the Board.  Finding this very concerning for consumers, Watson was instrumental in drafting proposed legislation that would require online review companies that review physicians and surgeons to include a link to the Medical Board’s official database containing disciplinary records. She was also interviewed by NBC News in San Diego about this project.  While CPIL was unable to find a willing author for the bill in 2019, it continues to be among the Center’s policy priorities.