David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy

Margaret Levy Public Interest Fellowship

With the generous support of Margaret Levy, the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy launched the Margaret Levy Public Interest Fellowship (Levy Fellowship) in Fall 2018. This initiative brings outstanding public interest leaders to UCLA School of Law each academic year for a multi-day visit. The Levy Fellowship complements the Epstein Program’s initiatives by deepening the opportunity for students to gain insight into cutting-edge areas of public interest law, to expand their networks in the public interest legal field, and to inspire a strong public service ethic in all members of the UCLA School of Law community. Past Fellows include Catherine E. Lhamon, Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

 

2019-20 Fellows

Fall 2019 Fellow

Dale Ho’s Levy Fellowship term was September 23-25, 2019. Ho’s public lecture on Monday, September 23 was New Threats to the Rights to Vote: Fighting Voter Suppression Over the Past Decade.


Dale HoDale Ho is the Director of ACLU's Voting Rights Project, and supervises the ACLU's voting rights litigation and advocacy work nationwide.

Ho has active cases in over a dozen states throughout the country. His cases have included: Department of Commerce v. New York (challenging the inclusion of a citizenship question on the Census, which he argued in the U.S. Supreme Court); Fish v. Kobach (challenging documentation requirements for voter registration in Kansas); and League of Women Voters of NC v. North Carolina (challenging cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration in North Carolina).

Ho has testified on election law issues before the United States Congress, and in various state legislatures around the country. He is also an adjunct clinical professor of law at NYU School of Law. Ho is a frequent commentator on voting rights issues, appearing on television programs including The Rachel Maddow Show; Hardball with Chris Matthews; and All-In with Chris Hayes; has written opinion pieces for The New York Times; and is widely published on redistricting and voting rights in law reviews including the Yale Law Journal Forum and the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

In 2017, Ho was named one of the best Asian American Lawyers under 40 by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Prior to joining the ACLU, Ho was Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP; and a judicial law clerk, first to Judge Barbara S. Jones, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and then to Judge Robert S. Smith, New York Court of Appeals.

He is a graduate of Yale Law School and Princeton University.


Spring 2020 Fellow

Kate Kendell's Levy Fellowship term is February 24-26, 2020.


Kate KendellKate Kendell is the Co-Interim Director Legal Director of Southern Poverty Law Center and Campaign Manager for Take Back the Court.

For 22 years, Kendell led the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Kendell stepped down from this role at the end on 2018 and since February 2019 has served as Campaign Manager for Take Back the Court, an organization committed to structural reform of the U.S. Supreme Court. She accepted the role of Co-Interim Legal Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center in August 2019.

Growing up Mormon in Utah, Kendell learned about the complexities of religion and politics from an early age. After receiving her J.D. from the University of Utah College of Law in 1988 and a few years practicing corporate law, she pursued her real love—civil rights advocacy—and became the first staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. There, she directly litigated many high-profile cases focusing on all aspects of civil liberties, including reproductive rights, prisoners' rights, free speech, the rights of LGBT people, and the intersection of church and state. In 1994 she joined NCLR as legal director, and was named executive director two years later.

Under her leadership, NCLR's programs, budget, and impact grew exponentially, and the issues facing the LGBT community—from homophobia in sports to immigration policy—have taken center stage in our nation's discussion of civil rights and justice. Kendell is a nationally recognized spokesperson for LGBT rights and has an active voice in major media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Advocate, NPR, CNN, and many others. Despite the national success of NCLR under her tenure, her most rewarding responsibilities still include fostering alliances on the community and organizational levels, and advocating from a grass-roots perspective on issues concerning social justice.

2018-19 Fellows

Fall 2018 Fellow

Catherine LhamonCatherine E. Lhamon is the Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. President Obama appointed Lhamon to a six-year term on the Commission on December 15, 2016, and the Commission unanimously confirmed the President’s designation of Lhamon to chair the Commission on December 28, 2016. Lhamon also litigates civil rights cases at the National Center for Youth Law, where she has been Of Counsel since October 2017.

Before coming to the Commission, Lhamon served as the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education until January 2017. President Obama nominated her to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights position on June 10, 2013, and she was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 1, 2013. Immediately prior to joining the Department of Education, Lhamon was director of impact litigation at Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. Before that, she practiced for a decade at the ACLU of Southern California, ultimately as assistant legal director.

Earlier in her career, Lhamon was a teaching fellow and supervising attorney in the Appellate Litigation Program at Georgetown University Law Center, after clerking for The Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 2016, Politico Magazine named Lhamon one of Politico 50 Thinkers Transforming Politics and the National Action Network honored Lhamon with their Action & Authority Award. In 2015, Yale Law School named Lhamon their Gruber Distinguished Lecturer and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities awarded Lhamon their Special Recognition Award. Chronicle of Higher Education named Lhamon to their 2014 Influence List as the Enforcer. The Daily Journal listed her as one of California’s Top Women Litigators in 2010 and 2007, and as one of the Top 20 California Lawyers Under 40 in 2007. In 2004, California Lawyer magazine named Lhamon Attorney of the Year for Civil Rights.

Lhamon received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was the Outstanding Woman Law Graduate, and she graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College.

Lhamon’s Levy Fellowship was November 6-7, 2018. Lhamon’s public lecture: "The Future of Civil Rights Enforcements"


Spring 2019 Fellow

Vanita GuptaVanita Gupta is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Before joining The Leadership Conference in June 2017, Gupta served as Acting Assistant Attorney General and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Appointed in October 2014 by President Barack Obama as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Gupta oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all during one of the most consequential periods for the division. Under Gupta’s leadership, the division did critical work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals; ensuring voting rights for all; and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, lending, and religious exercise.

Prior to joining the Justice Department, Gupta served as Deputy Legal Director and the Director of the Center for Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she launched the Smart Justice Campaign to end mass incarceration. She joined the ACLU in 2006 as a staff attorney. Gupta began her legal career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she litigated a series of landmark wrongful drug conviction cases in Tulia, Texas. Gupta graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law, where later she taught a civil rights litigation clinic for several years.

Gupta’s Levy Fellowship was February 26-27, 2019. Gupta’s public lecture: "The Momentum of Hope: Civil Rights in the 21st Century"