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The Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowship's 29th Year Concludes

July 31, 2017, ABF news

From left to right: Zoe Walker, Larkin Smith, Sushmitha Ram, and Marcus Lane Jr.

July 28 marked the final day at the ABF for this year’s Montgomery Summer Research Diversity (SRDF) fellows, Marcus Lane Jr., Sushmitha (Sushi) Ram, Larkin Smith, and Zoe Walker.

Since its inception in 1988, the program has welcomed 122 undergraduate students from across the country to join the ABF’s intellectual community and gain an in-depth introduction to the rewards and demands of a research-oriented career in the field of law and social science.  Admission to the SRDF program is highly-selective; students from diverse backgrounds, who demonstrate academic excellence and a keen interest in legal- and social science-based research and scholarship, are encouraged to apply. Each year, four exceptional individuals have been chosen as fellows, and this year’s cohort was no different.

Marcus Lane Jr. is a rising junior at Syracuse University, where he is pursuing a degree in policy studies with a concentration in government and business and society and the legal system. Marcus’ strong commitment to social justice, evidenced by his founding role in the Youth Council for the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse, coupled with research and analytics experience gained through his time as a research consultant at Syracuse’s Home Headquarters, made him an excellent match for the fellowship. Marcus spent the summer assisting ABF research professor and director emeritus, Robert L. Nelson, in analyzing data collected from the “After the JD” research project, a longitudinal, empirical study that tracks the career trajectories of almost 5,000 lawyers who were admitted to the bar in 2000.

Sushi Ram is a rising senior at Smith College, majoring in history and economics with a concentration in community engagement and social change, focused on immigration and domestic violence.  A celebrated debater, Sushi was the 2015 and 2016 recipient of the Most Distinguished in Debate Award and the 2017 Andrew C. Slater Prize for Excellence in Debate from Smith College. Other accomplishments include interning for District Judge Staci Williams during the Citizens Civil Academy program and serving as a STRIDE scholar to assist Smith College professors Lauren Duncan and Kate Queeney with research on the underrepresentation of women and people of color in the STEM field. Sushi spent the summer working alongside ABF Director Ajay K. Mehrotra on research to support his comparative fiscal history project.

Larkin Smith is a rising junior at the University of Chicago where she is pursuing the interdisciplinary program, Fundamentals: Issues and Texts and Human Rights. In her academic career, Larkin is passionate about environmental ethics, political philosophy, and social movement history and theory. During summer 2016, she worked with the Borgen Project, a non-profit focused on advancing poverty-reducing legislation, where she wrote articles, lobbied local congressional leaders, maintained a fundraising campaign, and wrote bill summaries for their website. Larkin spent the summer assisting ABF Research Professor Victoria Saker Woeste with her research on the Westboro Baptist Church and the legal career of Fred Phelps. Following the fellowship, Larkin will continue on in this work as a research assistant for Professor Woeste.

Zoe Walker is a rising junior at the University of Notre Dame, where she is double-majoring in political science and English. She is a member of the mock trial team, the student government judicial council, and is secretary of the Notre Dame Pre-Law Society. Her time volunteering  at the Indiana Legal Services Clinic inspired her to write a research paper on the interactions between minority families and the legal system, for which she was named a named a Notre Dame Doan Scholar. Zoe spent the summer working with ABF Research Professor Traci Burch to develop an original database of American protest activity since 2005.

In addition to their research assignments, the fellows met with various members of the ABF research faculty, participated in the Wednesday research seminar series, and went on several site visits in the Chicago area. Trips included the Chicago Immigration Court with the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants, the Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Convictions, sitting in on Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Negotiations Workshop taught by Professor Daniel Gandert, meeting with Cook County Circuit Judge Sophia H. Hall, and touring the Chicago offices of Kirkland & Ellis. 

The American Bar Foundation thanks Marcus, Sushi, Larkin, and Zoe for their outstanding work this summer! To learn more about the Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowship in Law and Social Science, click here.

Posted by: Jennifer Montagne

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