New Fellows Program Brings Renowned Public Interest Leaders to UCLA Law

The David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy is launching a new public interest fellows program, bringing two eminent legal leaders to UCLA School of Law each year for public lectures and residencies in which they will work closely with students.

The program is made possible by a generous gift from Margaret Levy ’75, a Los Angeles-area mediator in complex commercial matters and a former partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

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Catherine Lhamon

“UCLA Law and the Epstein Program have a great tradition of creating exceptional public interest opportunities for our students,” said Karin Wang, the executive director of the Epstein Program. “The Margaret Levy Public Interest Fellows Program elevates our ability to connect our passionate public interest students with nationally-recognized lawyers who are working on behalf of vulnerable communities. The residencies allow for both intimate conversations with students as well as inspiring public talks on cutting-edge legal issues. We are grateful to Margaret Levy for her support of this vision.”

The first Margaret Levy Public Interest Fellow is Catherine Lhamon, who is chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and is of counsel to the National Center for Youth Law. She will be in residence starting on Nov. 6, 2018, and will give a lecture on Nov. 7 on “The Future of Civil Rights Enforcement.”

Appointed by former President Obama in 2016 to a six-year term as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Lhamon previously served for four years as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The recipient of numerous awards for her advocacy on behalf of underserved individuals and communities, Lhamon began her career in Los Angeles, spending a decade litigating racial justice and education issues with the ACLU and later directing impact litigation at Public Counsel. A graduate of Yale Law School, she clerked for Judge William A. Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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Vanita Gupta

The program’s second fellow, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President and CEO Vanita Gupta, will be in residence February 25 and 26, 2019. Gupta served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, from 2014 to 2017. High-profile matters handled during her tenure included the investigations of the Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago police departments; the challenge to North Carolina’s HB2 law and other transgender rights litigation; and enforcement of education, land use, hate crimes, and other statutes to combat religious discrimination. Details of her public lecture will be announced after the new year.

The David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy is among the most innovative and rigorous public interest law programs in the country, training students to address some of society’s most pressing challenges and provide sophisticated representation to traditionally underserved individuals, communities and interests. Program faculty have an unparalleled depth and breadth of knowledge and experience in social justice, and work closely with administrators to counsel, guide and support students and alumni as they pursue impactful public interest careers.