Prestigious Fellowships Awarded to UW Students for their Work in Public Interest Law

Madison, WI, January 6, 2003 -- Two students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School were awarded fellowships to continue their work in public interest law. Carlos Becerra was awarded the Fried Frank/Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund Fellowship. Jenigh Garrett was awarded the Fried Frank/NAACP Fellowship.

Both students gained valuable experience in public interest law through the Land Law and Tenure Security Extern Program at UW's Land Tenure Center. Every summer the Center places law students with organizations working on landholding issues in poor rural communities.

Mr. Becerra worked with the Texas Rural Legal Aid in Weslaco, Texas. His work with the colonias along the border with Mexico allowed him to see first-hand what many people in the region deal with every day: lack of paved roads, sewers, electricity and even water. He was able to help landowners gain clear title their homes and avoid unfair taxes and interest rates.

Ms. Garrett worked for the Land Loss Prevention Project in North Carolina. While there she helped landowners with a wide range of property and environmental concerns. Among other efforts, she was able to help a landowner protect his property from being damaged by the construction of a nearby railroad track.

Each summer since 1997, students from UW and several other law schools around the country have assisted hundreds of low-income rural residents with legal needs associated with their land. This type of work brings many of the students to the attention of respected law firms.

Under the terms of the fellowship, Mr. Becerra will work for the Fried Frank law firm in New York for two years and then for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund for two more years. Ms. Garrett will also work for two years at the law firm, followed by two years at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund as a staff attorney.