SWLAW Blog | Diversity

Image - PILC Feature Friday Criminal Defense Law

August 23, 2019

Meet our 2019 PILC Grant Recipients Working in Criminal Defense Law

The Public Interest Law Committee (PILC) is a student-run organization that encourages public interest involvement and sponsors events such as the annual Party Books, Live Auction, Trivia Bowl, and etc to raise grant money for public interest students.

We want to recognize those students and the incredible work they are doing with their Public Interest Law Committee Summer Grant. Introducing our 2019 PILC Grant recipients working in Criminal Defense law:

Tina Shakilyan, 2L

Summer Placement: Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office

Image - Tina Shakilyan"Public interest work is extremely fullling in that I get to help give back to the community of L.A. in a meaningful and important way. I want to help those who are put in extremely unfortunate situations due to their low socioeconomic status or race." 


E. Rose Harriot, 3L

Summer Placement: Public Defender Association, Community Justice Project

Image - E. Rose Harriot"The Community Justice Project implements restorative practices for prisoners and survivors to collectively address the harm associated with both violence and incarceration, and is part of a movement of justice involved people, their families, and survivors, to push for healing alternatives to excessively punitive sentencing. " 

Hannah Mandel, 3L

Summer Placement: Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office

Image - Hannah Mandel"My role as a law clerk is to assist Public Defenders (PDs) with their important and incredible work representing indigent clients who cannot afford representation. I’m fortunate to be able to help PDs with interviews, trial prep, voir dire, and other tasks, with the knowledge that I am able to positively impact at-risk adult and juvenile communities."

John Lucas Frye, 2L

Summer Placement: Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office

Image - John Lucas Frye"I am nothing without my community, and public interest work means serving your community and helping people who need the help most. Indigent criminal defense is so special because it spans many intersections of ethnicity, housing status, and culture. I was able to help in the defense of clients spanning many different backgrounds, and this is why I am so passionate about indigent criminal defense."

La Shannon Lewis, 2L

Summer Placement: Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office

Image - La Shannon Lewis"Anyone that knows me well will  immediately inform you that I’m deeply passionate about indigent criminal defense. Although challenging at times, the emotional gratification I generate through my work with the indigent population more than compensates for the challenging cases I’ve been assigned over the course of this past summer. I am made whole on a case so long as my client understands that I understand his/her needs, and will zealously advance an argument for his/her release."

Mariapaola Santacruz, 3L

Summer Placement: Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office

Image - Mariapaola Santacruz"As a law clerk, I am able to provide support for the attorneys in the office. By being able to conduct that extra bit of research or interview the client one more time before a court appearance makes a huge difference for the attorneys, the clients, and the end result. In the end, the assistance that I lend to the Deputy Public Defenders I work with ensures that the client is getting the best representation possible." 

Sanaz Ahari, 3L

Summer Placement: Ventura County Public Defender's Office

Image - Sanaz Ahari"Public interest work allows me to protect constitutional rights and provide services to a population that may not otherwise have access to legal services. An issue I am passionate about is police conducting unlawful searches. In my summer placement at the Public Defender's Office, I am able to file motions to fight unlawful searches and protect clients from being impacted by this unlawful police conduct."

PILC Grants are available for continuing students who work in public interest during the summer. Applications are due in March. Awards up to $5,000. Email publicservice@swlaw.edu for more information.