UCLA Law Student Receives Gideon’s Promise Fellowship to Work in Richland County Public Defender’s Office

April 28, 2015 -- UCLA School of Law student Kevin Whitfield ’15 has been chosen as the law school’s second Gideon’s Promise Fellowship recipient. He will work in the Richland County Public Defender’s Office in Columbia, South Carolina as part of the Gideon’s Promise Law School Partnership Project (LSPP), which places third-year law students interested in public service careers in positions at underserved public defender offices. 

“I am delighted to have been selected to join the Richland County Public Defender’s Office as a Gideon’s Promise Fellow. Having grown up in the Carolinas, I feel personally invested in the fellowship’s mission of improving indigent defense in the South,” Kevin said. “I look forward to joining likeminded advocates in South Carolina and—with the valuable instruction provided by the fellowship—helping advance the goals of the Richland Office and Gideon’s Promise at large.” 

During his first year at UCLA Law, Kevin volunteered with the Project Innocence and Labor & Employment legal clinics, and was recognized as a Distinguished Associate in the 1L Mock Trial Competition. He has served as a research assistant for several law professors, investigating diverse areas of criminal law. Kevin also has interned with the Guilford County Public Defender’s Office in North Carolina. He attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he double majored in Philosophy and Peace, War & Defense.

The LSPP is a partnership between Gideon’s Promise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to public defense reform, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), participating law schools and Southern public defender offices. Students participating in the LSPP receive a fellowship from their law schools and a commitment of a permanent job within one year from the public defenders’ offices where they are placed. Additionally, the students receive the Gideon’s Promise signature Core 101 training: a three-year program that offers tools to provide meaningful representation to public clients under difficult circumstances and learn strategies to resist pressures to adapt to the status quo (quickly processing defendants through the system). UCLA School of Law was the first law school to join the coalition, which was launched in November 2013.