JHP Fellows 5/22

May 22, 2024

Future Leaders in Law: Judge Harry Pregerson Public Service Fellows Prepare for Impactful Summer Roles

As Southwestern students embark on their summer placements, our Judge Harry Pregerson Public Service Fellows eagerly anticipate the hands-on experiences that will shape their future legal careers. From public defenders' offices to district attorneys' units, these placements offer unique opportunities to immerse themselves in the real-world application of law, advocate for justice, and serve their communities. Here, our 2024 Judge Harry Pregerson Public Service Fellows share what they most look forward to in their upcoming summer clerkships:

Nicole Bala | Ventura County Public Defender’s Office  

I am most excited about the summer immersion experience and developing a better understanding of criminal defense litigation and trial advocacy. I am eager to witness the law in action in the courtroom and learn about a public defender's daily responsibilities. I hope to glean as much as possible from my supervising attorney in how to be an effective advocate for individuals impacted by the criminal legal system. Most importantly, I look forward to connecting with my community, accompanying clients through their cases, and providing essential legal support.  

Donald Bullock | Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office  

I am excited to continue the work I began a year ago, upholding and representing the constitutional rights of the indigent who are charged with crimes. This summer, I am excited to continue honing my client contact skills and becoming a more well-rounded and holistic future public defender. I am most looking forward to caring for my clients, allowing their stories to be heard and seen while advocating for their needs.  

Kierra Capurro | Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office – Hardcore Gang Unit  

I am most looking forward to seeing the inner workings of a District Attorney’s Office and evaluating the Office’s current practices in alternative sentencing. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has proven itself to be a trailblazer in criminal justice reform. I am excited to be a part of the Office and see if prosecution is the right career path for me.  

Olivia Dilas | Sacramento County Public Defender's Office  

[My summer clerkship] in the Sacramento County Public Defender's Office transcends mere participation; it embodies a mission that echoes my journey from a child refugee, war survivor, and political asylee to a law student poised to become a hopeful future Public Defender. Inspired by Judge Harry Pregerson's enduring legacy, my path is dedicated to amplifying the voices of the marginalized, ensuring that those often silenced by systemic barriers are heard.  

My personal history of overcoming adversity fuels my passion for justice and equity, aligning with Judge Harry Pregerson's commitment to the underprivileged and guiding my resolve to ensure every individual secures the robust defense they are fundamentally owed.  

My work this summer will provide an opportunity to advocate for diverse marginalized communities, such as new immigrants, LGBTQAI+ individuals, communities of color, the unhoused, and those grappling with untreated mental health issues. Here, my mission is clear: to break the cycle of punitive injustice through efforts that uplift rather than suppress.  

This summer clerkship marks not just a professional milestone but a significant step in my personal narrative, offering a platform to effect meaningful change within a legal system I have come to know both as a survivor seeking refuge and as a student seeking to contribute. It is here, at the intersection of my past and future, that I strive to embody the fairness and justice that Judge Harry Pregerson championed, advocating for a legal system that respects and protects all, regardless of their story or status.  

Alexander Drew | U.S. Department of Justice – Antitrust Division  

This summer, I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve the broader American populace through the work of the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. The foundation of antitrust law was laid in response to the excesses of the American Gilded Age and monopolistic practices that harmed consumers, stifled competition, and widened the wealth gap. Over a century later, we still see how economic disparities exacerbate social injustices, such as housing insecurity, financial instability, and other critical economic and consumer issues. Through robust antitrust enforcement, we can ensure fair competition, providing Americans with more choices and stronger economic protections that ultimately move us towards a more equitable and prosperous society for all. Therefore, I am excited to spend my summer learning more about how antitrust enforcement can address such critical needs.  

Miranda Flores-Tirado | Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office  

Growing up in Los Angeles, I have always wanted to give back. I am excited to work with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office to assist attorneys who make a real impact on people's lives. I am most looking forward to directly serving my community in this way and working with such great community leaders. I came to law school to help others, and I'm excited to take a real step in furthering that goal while also having the opportunity to improve my legal research and legal writing skills through such important client matters.  

Desirae Ibarra | U.S. District Court – Central District of California – Hon. Karen Stevenson  

I am looking forward to learning more about what advocacy looks like from the judiciary’s perspective. Last summer, I was excited to learn what a good advocate can look like in courtroom defense, and this summer, I am equally excited to learn what true judicial advocacy looks like. I want to learn as much as possible as a judicial extern to the Honorable Judge Karen Stevenson so that I can develop the skills necessary to succeed in the legal profession, to learn more of the complexities of proceedings in federal district courts as well as how to be an effective and exceptional litigator.   

Sarah Kreager | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  

Prior to attending law school, I worked for various companies and in different workplace settings, where I saw many examples of injustices and unfair labor practices embedded in workplace policies and practices that often resulted in individuals being taken advantage of due to their lack of awareness of employee protections and rights. This summer, I am excited to work for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to deepen my understanding of employment law and workplace protections. By working alongside fellow advocates and legal experts at the EEOC, not only will I gain a better understanding of workers’ rights, but I’ll also be contributing to the agency’s efforts in addressing systemic inequalities and fostering a more equitable workplace environment for all. I am honored to spend my summer contributing to the mission and the daily work of an agency that is dedicated to safeguarding and promoting the rights of all workers.  

Matthew Ospina | Fair and Just Prosecution  

Through Fair and Just Prosecution’s split-summer program, I will work in both the District Attorney’s Office of Los Angeles County in California and the District Attorney’s Office of Pima County in Arizona.  This summer, I am most looking forward to gaining exposure to the work that line prosecutors engage in as well as the work of specialized branches, such as the Sex Trafficking Unit in Los Angeles and the Convictions Integrity Unit in Tucson, which differentiate in progressive approaches to justice and reform from other prosecutor offices around the country.  

I’m also eager to receive mentorship from both Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon and Pima County District Attorney Laura Conover to learn first-hand how they grapple with election cycles, setting a vision for criminal justice in their respective cities, and how they weigh various stakeholder interests in pursuit of a more fair and just criminal justice system for all. I am humbled to have such privileged access to the individuals and processes that make the “big picture” of reform possible.   

Lianne Urriza | Children's Law Center of California   

Over the past year, I’ve been a law student extern at the Lanterman Special Education Legal Clinic, assisting children who receive special education services through their educational institutions. It has been so fulfilling and rewarding to see the impact I am able to achieve working with children and advocating for them. This summer, I am most looking forward to extending this impact in the context of dependency law and continuing to learn how to be a better children’s rights advocate in the issue areas that I am passionate about.