By Jordan PollMay 21, 2019
Outlaws, Michigan Law's LGBTQ+ student organization, has named 2L Anna Belkin as this year's recipient of the Outlaws Public Service Fellowship. The fellowship provides financial support for a 1L or 2L to take on unpaid public service work during their summer to benefit the LGBTQ+ community. "I'm so grateful," said Belkin. "Receiving the fellowship feels like a recognition of how much work I have put into this community that I really care about."
With the fellowship, Belkin will spend her summer with the New York Civil Liberties Union as a law clerk, where she will aid the organization in their pursuit of challenging systemic injustices through impact litigation. "It's clear to me that there's going to be a place for impact litigation because gay marriage was so successful," she said. "I care about reproductive rights, women's rights, and LGBTQ equality. I think there is this lack of awareness regarding the issues that are facing the more vulnerable parts of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically trans women of color, and I look forward to changing that."
After graduating from Wellesley College with a bachelor's degree in English, Belkin travelled from Austin to Denver and then from Washington, D.C., to New York, gaining diverse experiences along the way before getting a glimpse of life in Big Law as a litigation paralegal at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. "I really liked it," she said. "But, after two years, I wanted to know what life was like for public interest lawyers, especially those working with the LGBTQ+ community, as I aspired to be one." Belkin took a position as a paralegal for the Women's Rights Project through the American Civil Liberties Union. After spending two more years providing administrative support to attorneys on matters ranging from employment and education to housing, she set her sights on attending law school.
It was Belkin's Outlaws connections that made Michigan feel like home, even before she matriculated. "A week before I came to campus for Preview Weekend, I received an email from a current student and member of Outlaws. It contained a list of events and an invitation to sit with everyone at lunch, so I didn't feel alone or out of place. Little did I know that I would be meeting some of my best friends," said Belkin. "It was amazing to come back in the fall and already know a bunch of people. Outlaws became my jumping-off point, and I dove right in."
After serving as co-chair of Outlaws her first year, Belkin led Reproductive Rights and Justice at Michigan Law as co-chair, the American Constitutional Society as student organization liaison, the Jewish Law Students Association as communications chair, and the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law as editor-in-chief. She also spent her 1L summer as a judicial intern for The Hon. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. "There is no better place to learn the law than at Michigan because of its connections, resources, and diversity of opportunities," she said.
Belkin was named this year's fellowship recipient by a selection committee of Michigan Law community members and Outlaws alumni. The committee included: Maureen Carroll, assistant professor of law; Jay Baer, '08, acting director of admissions; Lara Finkbeiner, '13, deputy legal director of the International Refugee Assistance Project; Ben Mizer, '02, partner at Jones Day; and Lexi Peacock, '16, associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP.
"The selection committee was very impressed by Ms. Belkin's commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, as demonstrated through her work both in and outside of law school," said Finkbeiner. "We are thrilled to support her as an aspiring public interest litigator. We hope this fellowship serves as an important stepping stone to her future career."
The Outlaws Public Service Fellowship is supported by the Spectrum Fund, which was established by Henry Grix, AB, '70, '77, and Howard Israel, BFA '72, and by the generous donations raised through annual fundraising efforts, including the Kevin E. Kennedy Memorial Gayla.
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