Madison Nash ’22 describes the impact of fellowship support
Entering law school, I knew I did not want to go into “big” law. I knew that I was interested in practice areas like family law or elder law. Everyone I talked to asked me why I would want to go into that area of law when I could make double the money in a different area of law. My answer was simple; I wasn’t in it for the money. I was in it for the clients who needed it most.
Although I am not “in it for the money,” there is a simple reality that I need some money in order to meet my basic needs. A lot of internships I was interested in my first year were unpaid. Truth be told, I applied to internships I was less interested in because I was concerned about being able to buy groceries each week and being able to pay my rent. I was stuck between internships I was extremely interested in but without income and paid internships that were not as relevant to my interests.
After I attended a Buffalo Public Interest Law Program (BPILP) General Interest Meeting, I knew that support might be available to help me do the work I wanted. I was fortunate to be awarded a Class of ’79 1L public interest fellowship. Because of this fellowship, I was able to devote my time to working for the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and for the Hon. Richard C. Kloch Sr. ’76, a Niagara County Supreme Court Justice. Like many of my classmates, I was afforded the opportunity to do what I found most meaningful.
Kyra A. Udziela, a second-year law student like me, is another example of how fellowships provide students the opportunities to serve within the Buffalo community. She was awarded a BPILP fellowship to support her service with the Erie County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project in Buffalo, New York.
“During summer of 2020,” Kyra explained to me, “I interned with the Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc. Almost everything was remote because of the pandemic, and my internship did not provide any income. The fellowship from BPILP allowed me to stay in the Buffalo area instead of moving back home to Chicago for the summer. As a young adult, this was ideal. But it also allowed me to be available for the few in-person opportunities I had with my internship. The fellowship from BPILP allowed me to get the most out of my internship experience!”
The fellowships resulting from BPILP’s annual auction are important to so many students at the law school, like Kyra and me. I am now a member of BPILP, and I strive to help students facing similar challenges to what I faced during my first year of law school. The public interest and not-for-profit agencies where our fellows typically serve are often understaffed and in need of additional assistance but unable to pay student interns. BPILP’s fellowships help to “bridge the gap,” allowing students to serve in the public interest and receive a stipend while doing so.
Public interest fellowships like those from BPILP have provided students at the law school valuable placement opportunities in areas of law including domestic violence, human rights, child welfare, housing, disability, homelessness, the elderly, and unemployment. These opportunities enable our fellows to do work aligned with BPILP’s motto, “There is No Justice Without Equal Access.”
I hope you strongly consider joining BPILP for our Virtual Silent Auction and live Zoom Social on April 27, 2021, from 6 to 8 p.m. Although our auction is taking a different format this year, we still have the same goals in mind. Every dollar raised supports a fellowship for a student at the law school. Whether you join us for the Zoom event and bid on auction items, bid online, or simply make a donation, you are providing students the opportunity to receive funding for their public interest service.
As a member of the law school and the Buffalo Public Interest Law Program, thank you for your support and generosity.
Madison Nash is a second-year law student and programming chair for the Buffalo Public Interest Law Program. After her first year of law school, she was named the University at Buffalo School of Law Class of 1979’s 1L Summer Fellow. The generous support of donors allowed her to gain invaluable experience while working at the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and with Justice Kloch.