The legal profession has long been captured by corporate interests. As a result, we have a legal system built to serve those same interests, rather than the everyday people most in need of justice. This corporate capture begins as soon as law students arrive on campus; rarely, if ever, do those campuses have well-organized and adequately-supported forces pushing back against this capture. In order to effectively challenge the pro-corporate nature of the legal profession, organizing efforts are needed on two fronts. First, the culture on law school campuses must change so that pro-corporate work is no longer seen as politically and morally neutral, but rather understood as something that actively harms already marginalized and vulnerable people. Second, pro-people, public-interest careers need to be more accessible for students and recent graduates who, even when interested in pro-people work, often find that pro-corporate legal jobs are their only practical option.
In order to make this a reality, we are thrilled to announce our next cohort of PPP Leadership Fellows — fourteen second-year law students from around the country who will dedicate 10–15 hours per week for the next two years to leading organizing efforts on their campus to end the corporate capture of the legal profession.
Heather Atherton (she/her) is a 2L at Northeastern University School of Law, where she is an active member of the Housing Justice Collective, First Generation Lawyers Association, and serves as an Associate Editor on the Northeastern University Law Review. She currently works at the Prisoner’s Rights Clinic intake desk and in the Cooperative Income Sharing Program office at Northeastern. This fall, Heather will be interning with the Committee for Public Counsel Services – Roxbury Defender Unit in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She is looking forward to a career as a public defender after law school.
Heather is originally from Chicago, Illinois. Prior to college, she served in a variety of roles across multiple industries throughout two decades of employment and volunteer work. Paralegal, teaching assistant, bartender, and rage room session master, Heather has done it all. She is a 2020 graduate of the City Colleges of Chicago and finished her BA in global politics and Legal Studies at Lake Forest College in 2022. In her free time, she photographs street art around Boston, goes thrifting with her daughter, and encourages her neighbors to unionize.
Grace (she/her) is a second-year J.D. student at UConn School of Law in Hartford, CT. Her involvement in the healthcare and education sectors ignited her passion for the legal field and reinforced her desire for a career that directly engages with her community. Grace holds executive board positions in various campus organizations, including the American Constitution Society and the Diversity Alliance. This year, she is honored to lead UConn Law’s Chapter of the People’s Parity Project as President. Last semester, Grace volunteered with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services as a member of the inaugural cohort of the Pro Se+ Project. Working closely with a staff attorney, she provided guidance and support to pro se Afghan parolees throughout their USCIS application and interview process. As a Certified Legal Intern and PILG Fellow at UConn Health’s Office of General Counsel, Grace is gaining practical experience in the legal field. Additionally, she volunteers for Statewide Legal Services, ensuring community members can access streamlined and equitable legal information. Grace is dedicated to using her legal education and experiences to uplift her community.
In her free time, Grace enjoys watching reality TV, spending quality time with her dog (whom she suspects secretly watches reality TV with her), and creating memories with her family and friends (who, thankfully, don’t judge her for her reality TV obsession). She believes life is too short to take everything seriously, and she’s determined to find the perfect balance between legal prowess and binge-watching the juiciest reality show drama.
Alejandra is a rising 2L at the University of Chicago. She is passionate about ensuring that the law and courts are by the people and for the people, advancing our civil and human rights.
Elia Despradel attends the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. She is a rising 2L looking to pursue a career in public interest following graduation. This past summer, she worked at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau in the Housing Division. Elia grew up between the southern United States and Dominican Republic and completed her undergraduate studies in Nashville, TN. She is an avid reader and some of her favorite authors are N.K. Jemisin, V.E. Schwab, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Caitlin jones (she/her) is a rising 2L at the University of Connecticut School of Law, where she serves on the Public Interest Law Journal and as a board member of the Public Interest Law Group. This summer, Caitlin worked for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Connecticut. Caitlin hopes to continue working in civil liberties and hopes to focus on juvenile justice. Prior to law school, she taught in a public school in Salt Lake City, Utah for eight years. After receiving her masters in social justice in education, Caitlin knew she wanted to continue her work in juvenile justice reform. Caitlin is thrilled to be a part of the PPP leadership fellows team and hopes to continue her work advocating for increased public interest involvement and scholarship opportunities on campus.
Christopher is an evening law student at Barry Law in Orlando, Florida. By day, Christopher works in the Fair Housing Program at a legal aid firm serving twelve central Florida counties, as a non-attorney advocate. Additionally, he serves as a member of the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee and has interned with the Innocence Project of Florida and the Office of the Public Defender for Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit. Prior to law school, Christopher earned an M.A. in philosophy, a Graduate Certificate in gender, race, and identity studies, and an M.Ed. in secondary education. He spent several years as an educator and was an active member and leader in the teacher’s union. His focus is and has always been to work with and for the most vulnerable members of his community. After law school, Christopher intends to engage in community lawyering and has a particular interest in the intersection of housing and criminal justice. During his time as a PPP Leadership Fellow, Christopher is especially looking forward to working on state court issues.
Ross Levin is a member of the Fordham University School of Law class of 2025. Ross is co-chair of the Fordham National Lawyers Guild and the Community Outreach Coordinator of Fordham Law Defenders, and he is a staff member of the Fordham Environmental Law Review. During the summer of 2023, he is interning with the Government Benefits Unit of Manhattan Legal Services. Ross graduated from Wesleyan University in 2015. Before law school, he reported on local government and the rise of the far-right for public radio, worked with Ralph Nader to promote access to civil justice at the American Museum of Tort Law, and assisted attorneys representing injured plaintiffs against corporations in mass torts including vaping, opioid and other pharmaceutical litigation. He has been active in movements to build multiracial coalitions to challenge entrenched power for over a decade, from progressive electoral organizing to Occupy Wall Street to pipeline blockades and more. Ross is dedicated to the potential for the law to improve people’s quality of life and act as a bulwark against oppression.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Geryld has always been engaged with the dynamic intersection of politics and social justice. Before embarking on his legal journey, he dedicated significant time to various political campaigns in the Bronx, emphasizing the importance of grassroots movements and local activism.
A proud alumnus of Gettysburg College, Geryld earned a dual major in Political Science and Philosophy. The rigorous academic environment, combined with his innate passion for critical thinking and public service, set the trajectory for his future endeavors in law.
Currently attending University of Dayton School of Law, Geryld is pursuing labor and employment law. With a deep-seated commitment to union organizing and the broader spectrum of workers’ rights, he aspires to champion the rights of workers and provide them with a powerful voice. As the founding member of the People’s Parity Project chapter at the University of Dayton, he seeks to foster an environment in which the workplace is characterized by mutual respect, rights, and growth opportunities for all.
Sabrina (she/her) is a rising 2L at UConn Law School. She serves on the boards of National Lawyers Guild, Energy and Environmental Law Society, Mental Health Committee, and—of course—People’s Parity Project! With a background in biology, ecology, and evolutionary biology, Sabrina attends law school to pursue her passions in climate change activism and environmental justice. This past summer, Sabrina conducted research for Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation to help local municipalities build climate resilience. She also gained practical legal experience at the law office of Christine Whitehead developing skills in areas such as legal research and writing, client interaction, case lookup, and motion filing.
In her leisure time, Sabrina enjoys the company of her incredibly large family, friends, and cats—including her 11-week-old kitten. She can frequently be found appreciating the natural beauty of the creek behind her house (her happy place), singing along to an eclectic collection of music, or reading suspenseful novels—she’s currently on an Agatha Christie kick! Sabrina is thrilled to be part of People’s Parity Project and is immeasurably grateful for the knowledge she has already gained. She is eager to bring what she learns to the UConn Law community to bolster endeavors to eradicate the various forms of injustice.
Angela Rofael, a native of Huntington Beach, California, is a passionate advocate for social justice and civil rights. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Oregon and is currently a rising 2L at Georgia State University College of Law.
Angela’s primary interests lie in policy work surrounding voting rights and justice in policing and criminal law. She is committed to ensuring that every individual’s voice is heard and protected, and she aspires to contribute to the development of fair and inclusive legal frameworks.
In her free time, Angela enjoys distance running and weight training, prioritizing her physical and mental well-being. With a background in psychology and a legal education, Angela is dedicated to making a meaningful impact in the fields of law and policy.
Shannon Saul is a rising 2L at the UCLA School of Law in the Epstein Public Interest and Critical Race Studies programs. She brings her passion for intersectional community organizing and policy research to UCLA and currently works on pro bono projects for reproductive justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and worker’s rights. Prior to law school, Shannon was a community organizer at Keshet, the nation’s leading Jewish, LBGTQ+ rights organization. Shannon also worked at the National Conference of State Legislatures where they covered an array of policy domains affecting child and family well-being to track legislation and provide research for state legislators. She earned her B.A. from the University of Denver. During their undergraduate career, they co-founded a nonprofit to amplify the stories of survivors of gender-based violence.
Sophia Sheng is a second year law student at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, MA where she also works as a research assistant for the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project. At Northeastern, Sophia serves on the executive board of the school’s APALSA chapter, employment and labor law association, and immigration justice group, and is an Associate Editor on the Northeastern University Law Review. She also organizes with the graduate students’ union, Graduate Employees of Northeastern University (GENU-UAW). Prior to law school, Sophia studied oil painting at Renmin University (Beijing, China) and received her B.A. from the University of Chicago, where she pursued an interdisciplinary degree focusing on
memory studies and comparative literature.
Sophia looks to build upon her experience as a litigation paralegal to advocate for workers and people most vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis. She is excited to work with the People’s Parity Project to build cross-coalition solidarity to counteract corporate capture of the legal system.
Katja Stroke-Adolphe is a rising 2L at University of Chicago Law School, where she serves as co-president of Defenders, the public defense student organization at the law school, and works in the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic (FCJC). This summer, she interned in FCJC, working to combat the federal jailing system. Katja is also on the boards of the National Lawyers Guild and If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice at the law school and has volunteered with Chicago Appleseed and the Prison Letter Writing Project. Upon graduating law school, she intends to become a public defender.
Prior to law school, Katja worked as the legal assistant of a Coordinating Discovery Attorney, preparing discovery review tools to assist court-appointed defense counsel in federal criminal cases, and working at the intersection of technology and public defense. She graduated from Princeton University in 2020 with a major in English and a certificate in theater. While in university, Katja interned during the summer as an investigator at the Legal Aid Society (LAS), first for LAS’s Criminal Defense Practice Bronx office (2018) and then for LAS’s Homicide Defense Taskforce (2019).
Zach Vigneau (he/him) is a 2L at Georgia State University College of Law and the co-founder and president of the GSU chapter of People’s Parity Project. He also co-founded the GSU chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and serves as the vice president of the American Constitution Society, as well as being active in various other clubs and organizations on campus. Zach spent his 1L summer interning for the Dekalb County Office of the Public Defender in the Complex Litigation department and looks forward to advocating for prison abolition in the future. Prior to attending law school, Zach graduated from The University of Michigan with degrees in economics and computer science and spent five years working as a higher education consultant for an enrollment management company in Chicago.
To learn more about the PPP Leadership Fellows program, contact PPP Organizing & Network Director, Steve Kennedy, at email@example.com