Five 2019 Graduates Named Colorado Civil Justice Corps Fellows
Earlier this year, the Office for Victims Program (OVP), a unit of the Division of Criminal Justice within the Colorado Department of Public Safety, announced a $2 million grant to create the Colorado Civil Justice Corps (CCJC) Fellowship. The program helps Colorado nonprofits access legal resources while also launching the careers of five University of Denver Sturm College of Law class of 2019 graduates focused on public interest law.
Congratulations to the inaugural cohort of fellows:
- Camille Agnello, JD’19, will work with the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center to support and expand its new Title IX work.
- Xochitl Gutierrez, JD’19, will work with Colorado Legal Services in its Survivors Unit, helping crime victims apply for humanitarian visas and serving survivors of human trafficking in other civil legal matters.
- Lauren Haefliger, JD’19, will work with Alpine Legal Services and will provide multi-issue support to Alpine, which is the only provider of free civil legal services for crime victims, children, seniors and low-income residents from Aspen to Parachute, Colo.
- Fionna Mejia Gatica, JD’19, will work at the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network to support children and families who are crime victims in their immigration matters.
- Maggie Wojtulewicz, JD’19, will work at Project Safeguard to represent victims in civil protection orders resulting from domestic violence.
“Each of the five fellows have already devoted considerable time and expertise to working on behalf of the public good during their tenure at Denver Law, and we can’t wait to hear about their work over the next two years,” said Alexi Freeman, associate professor of the practice and director of Externships and Public Interest Initiatives. “Our host nonprofits have a rich history of representing clients and new lawyers, and we know they will provide ample training and support to the fellows as they grow their advocacy skills and develop relationships with clients.”
The innovative CCJC Fellowship address a critical legal need in Colorado. Only 47 legal aid lawyers are available statewide to help the 880,000 eligible clients in need, according to statistics maintained by Colorado Legal Services (CLS). CLS also reports that 80 percent of low-income people have trouble obtaining legal representation in court to protect their property, family and livelihood when dealing with evictions, foreclosures, unpaid wages, domestic violence and public benefits.
“I'm hoping to do outreach to the community to improve outcomes for victims on a variety of issues,” said fellowship recipient, Lauren Haefliger. “I'd also love to meet with the community to understand their needs and help implement any related programs.”
In addition to filling the great need for legal aid representation, this fellowship program creates a gateway to nonprofit lawyering, a sector that is often difficult for new lawyers to break into in Colorado.
“I think this fellowship is a great place for me to start my career as a public interest attorney. I am fortunate enough to be a part of a community of attorneys that have a wealth of knowledge and experience in public interest and work every day to help members of our communities. I cannot imagine a better place for me to continue learning and start my career as an attorney,” said fellowship recipient, Xochitl Gutierrez.