DePaul University College of Law will hold its 118th commencement ceremony May 15 at the Rosemont Theatre where some 250 students will receive their Juris Doctors or Master of Laws degrees. The graduating class will be addressed by Edwin Silverman, a leader in U.S. refugee resettlement policies and programs.
The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul, will confer the degrees in a ceremony scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.
During a career spanning nearly four decades, Silverman led and shaped refugee resettlement and immigrant integration policy on the local, state and federal levels. With Silverman’s guidance, Illinois became a leader and national model for refugee resettlement. He began serving as the Illinois state refugee coordinator in 1976, first under the Governor’s Center for Asian Assistance, which then became the Refugee Resettlement Program under the Illinois Department of Public Aid.
On a wider scale, Silverman worked with lawmakers and policy experts on refugee matters and helped draft the United States Refugee Act of 1980, which established the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program.
From 2003-11, he chaired the Advisory Council for Immigrant and Refugee Affairs for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Now retired, Silverman’s long career made it possible for international victims of war, violence and terrorism to make new lives in the United States.
Silverman will be introduced by Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea of the College of Law.
Since its establishment in 1912, the College of Law has graduated more than 19,250 students. DePaul law graduates have gone on to become highly skilled, committed and vigorous leaders of the bar, bench and business industries. Alumni include numerous state and federal judges, three Chicago mayors and managing partners of dozens of major law firms.
Its rich history of quality education, access and diversity has long set the College of Law apart. DePaul was among the first law schools in Illinois to admit historically excluded groups including female and Jewish students.
The college is home to distinguished centers and institutes that are dedicated to teaching, research, advocacy, and public education and engagement across a wide range of disciplines. Distinctive educational opportunities for students include joint degrees, certificate programs and experiential learning taught by 36 full-time faculty members who are all accomplished attorneys.
Areas of concentration for the College of Law include business law and taxation; child and family law; criminal law; health law; intellectual property law and information technology; international and comparative law; and public interest law.
In 2015, the National Law Journal named the College of Law's Clinical Program, Master of Laws (LLM) Program and joint Juris Doctors/Master of Business Administration Program the “Best in Chicago.”
DePaul has had the most alumni recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers for the past seven years. In the 2016 edition, 340 were listed, with 11 in the top 100, two in the top 10 and one ranked the No. 1 attorney in Illinois.
The Rosemont Theater is located at 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont. Those unable to attend may watch a live stream of the event at http://bit.ly/DPUGrad2016Live. Click on the word “webcast” once the ceremony begins.
Commencement ceremonies for DePaul’s nine other colleges and schools are scheduled for June 11 and 12. For additional information, including a list of speakers and honorary degree recipients, visit http://depaulne.ws/DPUGrad2016.
Story courtesy of the DePaul Newsroom.
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DePaul alumna Carla
Espinoza (JD ’12) successfully argued a case before the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals that would have permitted deportation of the appellant.
Espinoza, an attorney with Chicago Immigration Advocates, represented petitioner Hair Rodriguez-Molinero, a Mexican citizen formerly
involved in the methamphetamine trade who has lived in the U.S. for years
as a lawful permanent resident. Rodriguez-Molinero remains in custody of the
Department of Homeland Security and is subject to removal. He sought a Convention Against Torture (CAT) deferral of removal due to threats from the Zetas Mexican drug cartel and
torture from the Mexican police at the behest of the cartel, but was denied protection by an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals.
v. Lynch opinion by 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner reversed the immigration
judge’s ruling that Rodriguez-Molinero had failed to show that he faced a
substantial risk of torture were he to be removed to Mexico, or that the
Mexican government would acquiesce in the torture.
A report from LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom praised Espinoza's work on the case.
At DePaul, Espinoza volunteered extensively with DePaul’s Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic. She was named Sullivan Fellow at the International Human Rights Law Institute (IHRLI), where she worked on indigenous human rights cases
in association with Mexican nonprofit organizations. Through this work, Espinoza brought human rights cases before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and presented oral arguments during public hearings. One of these cases resulted in the creation of legal precedent for the Inter-American Human Rights System.
For her first law school summer, Annie Simunek pursued an
even greater challenge—a new legal system.
Simunek spent the summer in India, interning with the International
Justice Mission (IJM). The human rights organization works in 20 communities
around the world, partnering with local justice systems to help victims of
violence. Highly selective, IJM accepted just 13 of more than 400 applicants to
its 10-week summer internship program.
In college, Simunek worked with Indian families in the U.S.
and abroad, teaching and working at children’s homes in South and North India.
She studied theology and international studies online through Ecclesia College,
originally based in Arkansas. Inspired to volunteer, she chose to work for a
year and a half in India because of its high population of orphans and street children. At
DePaul Law, she gravitated toward the International Human Rights Law Institute
(IHRLI) and received guidance from Executive Director Elisabeth Ward. She also
began working with Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center Executive Director
Cheryl Price and Center for Public Interest Law Executive Director Shaye
“I started leaning toward public interest law near the end of
my last spring semester and just wanted the summer to determine if that was the
best direction for me,” Simunek said. She was honored with a Child and Family Law
Fellowship and an International Human Rights Law Fellowship, both of which
fully sponsored her work in India this summer.
Simunek said she identified and chose IJM for their
antihuman trafficking mission as well as their distinctive Justice System
Transformation Model. “Essentially, they aim to work themselves out of a job so
that the local government will adopt the process,” she explained. “And they’re
seeing that happen in communities such as Cambodia.” Training began at IJM’s Washington, D.C., home office the
first week of June. Simunek, who knows some Hindi, braved a heat index of 130
degrees her first week in India. At the IJM office, she provided direct support
to the head of legal and staff attorneys in researching and supporting trial
briefs as well as assisting with training programs for field workers in
relieving victims of sex trafficking and bringing perpetrators to justice.
Simunek said she was struck by the differences in the legal
systems of the United States and India and how injustice manifests itself in
both countries, yet in opposite ways. “Often the United States is quick to prosecute and hand
out long prison sentences for smaller offenses. In India, it was often very
difficult to get convictions. Convictions could take up to 10 to 15 years and,
even then, those convicted may apply for bail at any time.”
She explained that her experience in India allowed her to
view U.S. current events through a new lens. “My work overseas really gave me
time to see human rights issues here in the U.S. I came back from India at the
end of the summer inspired to face legal issues here and to aim to enact policy
changes and system reform in my home country.”
Simunek plans to pursue criminal law and juvenile defense
litigation or public interest clinical work, working with clients who cannot
afford representation and continuing her focus on anti-human trafficking.
“One of the things I like about DePaul is that a lot of my professors
are adjuncts,” she said. She cites Cook County Public Defender Richard Hutt and
Jay Readey, executivedirector at Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under
Law, as examples.
“They’re working in the places I’m interested in. They have
really valuable real-world experience that they bring to class.” For the time
being, Simunek is bolstering her commitment to justice on a local level with an
externship at the Chicago Legal Clinic’s Pilsen office, providing community-based legal services
to the underserved and disadvantaged in the Chicago area.
University College of Law will hold its commencement May 17 at the
Rosemont Theatre where some 280 students will receive their Juris
Doctors or Master of Laws degrees. The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider,
C.M., president of DePaul, will confer the degrees. M. Cherif Bassiouni,
DePaul emeritus professor of law, will address the graduating class.
The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.
who will receive an honorary degree at the ceremony, has spent much of
his life’s work advocating for human rights and practicing international
criminal law. In his 50 years with DePaul, he co-founded the
International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences and
DePaul’s International Human Rights Law Institute. For decades, the
United Nations has chosen Bassiouni to conduct investigations when
heinous human rights crimes were suspected. His contributions to the
establishment of an International Criminal Court, where those who commit
crimes against humanity are now prosecuted, earned him a Nobel Peace
Prize nomination in 1999.
Bassiouni will be introduced by Bruce Ottley, interim dean of the College of Law.
its establishment in 1912, the College of Law has graduated more than
19,000 students. DePaul law graduates have gone on to become highly
skilled, committed and vigorous leaders of the bar, bench and business
industries. Alumni include numerous state and federal judges, three
Chicago mayors and managing partners of dozens of major law firms.
rich history of quality education, access and diversity has long set
the College of Law apart. DePaul was among the first law schools in
Illinois to admit historically excluded groups such as female and Jewish
The college is home to distinguished
centers and institutes that are dedicated to teaching, research,
advocacy, and public education and engagement across a wide range of
disciplines. Distinctive educational opportunities for students include
joint degrees, certificate programs and experiential learning taught by
36 full-time faculty members who are all accomplished attorneys.
of concentration for the College of Law include business law and
taxation; child and family law; criminal law; health law; intellectual
property law and information technology; international and comparative
law; and public interest law.
In 2014, the
National Law Journal placed DePaul’s College of Law first for Best LLM
Program and Best Law School Clinical Program in Chicago. DePaul has had
the largest number of graduates on the Illinois Super Lawyers list for
the past six years.
This July, the College of
Law will welcome Jennifer Rosato Perea, a nationally recognized leader
in legal education, as dean. Throughout her 25 years in higher
education, which includes 11 years as a law school administrator, Rosato
Perea has been an active voice in the national dialogue about legal
education. At DePaul, Rosato Perea will lead a law school recognized for
its world-renowned faculty and innovative academic programs.
the Class of 2015 is Amanda Moncada, an ambitious Latina from Chicago
with plans for a career in corporate law. Read her story.
The Rosemont Theater is located at 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont. Those unable to attend may watch a live stream of the event. Click on the word “webcast” once the ceremony begins.
ceremonies for DePaul’s nine other colleges and schools are scheduled
for June 13 and 14. For additional information, including a list of
speakers and honorary degree recipients, visit http://depaulne.ws/DPUcommencementspeakers2015.
spring marks the 117th commencement for DePaul University. An estimated
6,700 students will graduate this academic year. DePaul is the largest
Catholic university in the United States and the largest private,
nonprofit university in the Midwest, with nearly 24,000 students and
about 300 academic programs.
founded in Chicago in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission
(Vincentians), a Roman Catholic religious community dedicated to
following the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul, the 17th century priest for
whom the university is named. DePaul’s tradition of providing a quality
education to students from a broad range of backgrounds, with
particular attention to first-generation students, has resulted in one
of the nation’s most diverse student bodies. More information is at depaul.edu.
Story courtesy of the DePaul Newsroom.
On November 19, the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) hosted its annual forum. The theme “Refugee Children: Their Rights, Our Responsibilities,” referenced the influx of Central American children immigrating to the United States in late 2013 and through the summer of 2014.
Symposium panelists included Oscar Chacón, co-founder and executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American, Caribbean Communities (NALACC); Ashley Huebner, managing attorney at the National Immigration Justice Center and Jajah Wu, supervising attorney at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. The symposium was moderated by DePaul College of Law's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Allison Tirres.
Panelists covered a range of issues, including the harsh realities of recent arrival immigrant children in the United States. They discussed the inadequate and often unjust responses of the federal government and the work that can and should be done to protect these children.
The panelists also discussed the process that unaccompanied immigrant children go through upon apprehension at the border, the causes and effects of the recent influx, the government's responses to this crisis and the challenges that legal professionals must overcome to ensure protection for this vulnerable population.
Students, alumni, faculty, practitioners and community leaders attended the forum. Contributors to the forum included the Society for Asylum & Immigration Law and the Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic.
Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking" and "Death of Innocents," and Jeanne Bishop, Cook County Assistant Public Defender, shared their inspiring stories of becoming advocates against the death penalty at the "Journey to Forgiveness" luncheon event on April 23.
Prejean’s journey began after she met an inmate who was later executed. Hearing his story and witnessing his execution deepened her commitment to educating the public about capital punishment and pushing for its abolishment. During law school, Bishop was a committed opponent of the death penalty through her involvement with Amnesty International. After members of her family were murdered by a teenager in 1990, Bishop became an outspoken advocate for the power of forgiveness and rehabilitation as positive alternatives to capital punishment.
Following their stories, Assistant Dean Andrea Lyon, author of “Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer,” led a discussion with the audience of students, faculty and staff. The conversation revolved around the need for the community to advocate for effective deterrence policies and programs, as well as reaffirmed the panelists’ commitment to seeking justice through means other than the death penalty.
The event was sponsored by the Center for Justice in Capital Cases, Center for Public Interest Law and University Ministry.
The Center for Public Interest Law hosted a panel discussion to highlight the work of advocates on the Cook County Human Trafficking Taskforce on March 19.
Panelists Catherine Longkumer of the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, Angelica Lopez of the DePaul Legal Clinic, and Rachel Ostergaard of the Salvation Army's STOP-IT program defined human trafficking, discussed common stories of their clients, highlighted strategies to stop human trafficking, and explained the unique legal needs and remedies available to foreign-born and domestic survivors of trafficking. Remedies range from immigration benefits to foreign-born survivors who aid in the investigation of human trafficking to a civil cause of action for survivors against their trafficker under the Illinois Predator Accountability Act. Students were given insight into how advocates in Cook County are working together to respond to this human rights issue and how legal and social services are critical to help survivors of trafficking.
The event was co-sponsored by the International Law Society, the Society for Asylum and Immigration Law, and the Latino Law Student Association.
Rose Rivera (JD ’09) built the Center for Legal Justice from a model she’d been quietly hatching for years.
Rivera entered law school intending to eventually join a well-established nonprofit in Chicago, such as LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), and settle into the city.
When that didn’t pan out, she turned to a world of possibilities. She took the opportunity to move to Indiana and pursue her LL.M. in International Human Rights at Notre Dame. Rivera also tested the waters abroad, completing an internship at the International Criminal Court in Holland, but concluded that she wanted to work in the United States.
Deciding to stay in the area, at least temporarily, Rivera applied for a job as an immigration attorney at the Just Help: Elkhart County Legal Advocacy Center in Goshen, Indiana. She was hired in August 2010 and eventually promoted to executive director and lead attorney, inheriting 200 cases relating to family law. She spent three years with the organization at its Goshen location, during which she says she got a crash course in family law. When the center uprooted to Elkhart, Indiana, it served as the first legal immigration service in the South Bend area, aside from Catholic Charities. In Elkhart, a factory town with a large immigrant demographic, Rivera recognized a serious need for local immigration attorneys.
She revisited an old idea she had quietly considered while in college: opening up her own business. She began actively researching information, consulting friends and mentors on the topic until, in February 2013, the center unexpectedly announced its closure. Rivera took it as a sign to branch out on her own. “I was already thinking about the 200 clients they were going to drop,” she said. She met with other attorneys in the area who also agreed there was a need for nonprofit legal services in addition to what already existed.
“It just sort of came together,” Rivera said. She revised the bylaws and nonprofit application she’d developed while at Notre Dame and began scouting spaces to rent for her immigration-focused bilingual organization called Center for Legal Justice. Rivera received nonprofit status in March. “For the most part, the position felt like stepping into old boots,” Rivera said. The center focuses on family and immigration law, such as family-based applications for legal permanent residence, naturalization and citizenship, and works by providing services on a reduced fee scale. While some things changed, such as her professional liability insurance and bank, others remained.
The center’s board includes former Just Help staffers like paralegal Cynthia Murphy-Wardlow and Rivera’s former colleague Lindsay Davenport. Rivera said she still calls upon the mentors and friends who helped her through the process, such as Center for Public Interest Law Faculty Director Len Cavise, former Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic staff attorney Linus Chan, Allegra Cira Fischer (’09), Susan DeCostanza (’08) and Jenny Grobelski (’10). “I couldn’t handle half the cases I do without their input.” Aside from her entrepreneurial spirit, another thing that sets Rivera apart from her peers is her decision to work in a small, rural area.
“A lot of things about Elkhart are special,” said Rivera of the diverse town with a population around 50,000. “It’s a neat little place where everyone knows each other.” Taking her urban education to a smaller town gave her an edge that she recommends to other young graduates.
“It’s a great experience for a young attorney who wants to get their feet wet,” Rivera said. “You become very recognizable very quickly. Relationships mean a lot here, with colleagues, and with referrals from judges. On the one hand you have to work to solidify those relationships, but now I go into a local courthouse and everyone knows who I am and what the Center for Legal Justice is. In Chicago relationships can only take you so far.”
Rivera said her biggest challenge is balancing the need to give every client the attention they deserve, while earning enough income to keep the center running. “Once in a great while, clients run out of money, and we’ll take them on pro bono,” she said. “To be frank, I wasn’t sure that it would work out when we started. [However], the need is there, and people have enough income to pay something for the services and invest in some way financially.”
“We make it with a little more and more to spare,” she said. “It’s very rewarding.”
Article from the fall 2013 issue of Dialogue magazine.
Cheryl Zalenski, director of the American Bar Association Center for Pro Bono, and Kelly Tautges, director of Pro Bono & Court Advocacy at the Chicago Bar Foundation, discussed federal and state efforts to increase Access to Justice initiatives with law students at DePaul University College of Law in late October.
Over one million residents in Illinois live under the poverty level and cannot pay for legal assistance, but there are only approximately 300 attorneys who provide legal aid pro bono service in Illinois. The Access to Justice movement strives to connect all interested parties in coordinated efforts to bring legal aid to those communities in need of legal representation.
Zalenski described the national Access to Justice efforts, such as encouraging legal communities to form Access to Justice Commissions and undertake certain model rule amendments. There are approximately 30 Access to Justice Commissions across the nation. The priorities vary at each commission. Examples of projects include standardizing legal forms across counties and affecting policy changes to allow retired attorneys to volunteer their free time doing pro bono work.
According to Tautges, the Access to Justice Commission in Illinois, established last year, has formed nine separate committees to increase and facilitate access to justice efforts in the state. Some of their efforts include working with the Illinois Supreme Court to allow law students to obtain their 711 license after earning half, rather than two-thirds, of their law school credits, effectively allowing students to start serving clients in need sooner. The Illinois Commission recently sponsored a conference to highlight growth in court based pro bono programs.
The panel discussion was hosted by the Pro Bono Community Service Initiative and the Center for Public Interest Law, and co-sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild, Outlaws, and the Journal for Women and Gender Law.
What makes DePaul special for Kelli Fennell is the powerful experience she has gained.
As part of classes through the College of Law’s Asylum & Immigration Law Clinic, she represented a client in a complicated immigration case and presented arguments before the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
“There aren’t too many people coming out of law school who can say they had a chance to argue a full case before they even graduated,” Fennell said.
She acquired an early interest in different cultures and in issues of community, and asylum and immigration. Fennell, who is fluent in Spanish, was raised by a family that moved often, and grew up in locales ranging from Mexico City to the Quad Cities.
As an undergraduate at Butler University, she had an opportunity to work with refugees and people seeking asylum. “That made a big impression on me,” she said. “DePaul’s location in Chicago and its active involvement in matters of human rights and immigration law is part of what drew me to the law school.”
DePaul’s extensive clinical opportunities were especially appealing to Fennell. “I knew it was an excellent law school with a great tradition of opening up the field, and that it has many alumni who are leaders in Chicago’s legal community,” she said. “The opportunities to apply what I am learning in real cases did not seem nearly as extensive at other law schools.”
As a DePaul student, Fennell spent a summer in Chiapas, Mexico, as part of the Chiapas Human Rights Practicum, in which students travel to Chiapas to meet with major human rights and indigenous organizations in the community. Students are based in San Cristobal, where local human rights lawyers, activists and community leaders teach students about the local legal and political situation.
As a Spanish-speaking student, Fennell received a stipend to work the entire summer in a human rights office. Fennell says that the Jaharis Scholarship “felt like a vote of confidence in my abilities and it has really been a help, allowing me to take full advantage of clinical opportunities.” And, as someone who moved around a lot as a child, she found a home at DePaul.
“The College of Law is a wonderful community. We are competitive, but we use that competitive impulse to excel individually and be supportive of each other. I have had some great mentors among the faculty, and the alumni network is terrific—very strong and active. The alumni are very faithful to the school and younger alumni. The community is constant.”
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) recently announced 11 student and young professional winners of its 2013 Helton Fellowships for projects in international law. Selected from more than 70 applicants from throughout the world, DePaul alumna Natalie Long (JD '12) is one of the 11 recipients. She will receive a micro-grant of $2,000 to provide legal services through Servicios de Apoyo Intercultural, A.C., to three indigenous Mayan communities located in the Lacandon Jungle in the state of Chiapas, Mexico.
ASIL established the Helton Fellowship Program in 2004 in honor of Arthur C. Helton, an internationally renowned lawyer and advocate for the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons. Helton died in the August 19, 2003, bombing of the United Nations (UN) mission in Baghdad.
Helton Fellows undertake fieldwork and research in association with established educational institutions, international organizations or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). They pursue fieldwork in or research on issues involving human rights, international criminal law, humanitarian affairs and other international law areas. The 2013 Helton Fellows include students and professionals from King's College of London, Harvard Law School, University of Ottawa, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Australian National University, among others.
The Helton Fellowship Program is administered by ASIL through its Career Development Program, and is funded by a grant from the Planethood Foundation and generous contributions from ASIL members.
In September 2012, the Next Gen Committee of the National Lawyers' Guild invited Long to discuss her human rights work in Chiapas with DePaul law students. She highlighted five cases handled by Servicios de Apoyo Intercultural, focusing on human rights violations in Chiapas.
DePaul College of Law's Jody Raphael has been named the 2013 recipient of the Illinois State Bar Association's Human Rights Section's Gertz Award. The award honors the long-standing, continuing and exceptional commitment to the protection and advancement of human rights.
Raphael, a senior research fellow with the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center, will recieve the award at the association's June luncheon in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.