A Temple Law student and a 2022 graduate have earned public interest fellowships as a result of their work and advocacy as law students. Joan Fernandez ’23 is an Equal Justice America summer Fellow, and Mana Aliabadi ’22 is a 2022 Justice Fellow through the Immigrant Justice Corps. 

“I feel incredibly lucky to be granted this fellowship to do direct services immigration work,” said Aliabadi, whose fellowship will support her work as a staff attorney with Nationalities Service Center for the next two years. “I knew I loved working closely with refugees, asylum-seekers and other immigrant communities even before law school. My enthusiasm for this work only solidified over the past three years at Temple Law, during which I felt constantly encouraged and supported to pursue my passions by amazing faculty mentors and fellow peers.” 

Fernandez will also be working as an immigration advocate through the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), a national nonprofit organization that has served as a progressive source of advocacy-oriented legal support on issues critical to immigrants’ rights. There, he will a work on a wide range of short- and long-term policy and federal litigation projects, including conducting legal research on questions implicated in NIPNLG’s ongoing litigation as well as its inter- and intra-organizational projects, public comments on proposed regulation changes, practitioner practice pointers, among other assignments.    

For Aliabadi, the work has a powerful personal connection. “I feel honored to be able to work with the Afghan community being resettled here in Philadelphia. The work deeply aligns with both my professional interests and personal experiences as a first-generation immigrant, who also migrated to Pennsylvania from the same region of the world as my future clients,” she said. 

For Fernandez, the work is a continuation of his efforts in direct service immigration advocacy before law school. “The legal research and other support I provide to NIPNLG help directly challenge unjust and inhumane immigration laws and policies,” he remarked. “My work with NIPNLG has allowed me to reflect on and act upon the many instances of injustice I encountered while working in direct immigration legal services before I started law school by looking at issues from a systemic lens in addition to a client outcome-based one. In an area fraught with access to justice and other astounding fairness issues, it is critical to not only ensure individual clients receive quality representation, but also that advocates are constantly asking themselves how to improve and reimagine the legal systems we have inherited. And that is precisely what this internship and organization do.”