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 two outstanding public interest leaders to UCLA School of Law each academic year for a multi-day visit. The Levy Fellowship complements the Epstein Program annual speaker series, 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.
Fall 2018 Fellow
Catherine 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 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"