Friday, April 10, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Olivia Mathias '14

Olivia Mathias graduated from UHLC in May 2014 and is currently employed as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, at the Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance - Catholic Charities. Many victims of human trafficking in the Greater Houston area lack access to the full range of legal assistance to meet their varied legal needs that extend beyond immigration relief, so her project will provide holistic legal representation to victims of human trafficking in Houston and create a framework in which non-profits and pro bono attorneys can meet clients’ wide-ranging legal needs.  She took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions:

1. How did you obtain your first job out of law school?

I started law school knowing that I wanted to practice public interest law. As such, an Equal Justice Works Fellowship was on my radar from the beginning. During my 3L year I worked with the supervising attorney of the Crime Victims Program at Cabrini to develop my project and then went through the steps of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship application process.

2. What experiences/internships did you have that you found to be helpful or beneficial in your job search and career thus far?

My work with immigrant populations quickly exposed me to the human trafficking crisis in Houston. That exposure came from my internships during law school with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Children at Risk, and at the Mexican Foreign Ministry. As a firm believer that freedom is a precursor to the exercise of any other right, I became interested in representing victims as they seek to avail themselves of the rights and remedies for which they qualify. As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, I have been able carry out my work in advancing fundamental human freedoms as part of larger network of public interest attorneys with similar goals. Because of the internships I had throughout law school, those partnerships were easier to cultivate. As a Fellow, I am also supported by the experience and vision of my host organization, Catholic Charities’ Cabrini Center, and my sponsor, Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

3. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to current law students?

I would advise all students working towards a career in public interest law to apply for an Equal Justice Works Fellowship. The Equal Justice Works Fellowship is a unique opportunity because it allows applicants to create projects that are unique to their interests and aspirations and addresses a pressing need in an underserved community that would otherwise be unmet.  Because of the intimate role I had in developing the project, I am profoundly committed to its success and sustainability.

An Equal Justice Works Fellowship allows a Fellow to launch her public interest career with a dream job the applicant designed.  The Fellow is expected to own the project, accomplish its goals within the two-year span of the Fellowship, and develop plans for sustaining the work.  An Equal Justice Works Fellowship is designed to cultivate the Fellow’s growth and development as a future public interest leader with training and access to an incomparable nationwide network of public interest leaders and experts in wide-ranging fields.

If you would like to connect with Olivia to learn more about her career path, please see your counselor in the Career Development Office. To learn more about Equal Justice Works Fellowships, go to: