They say opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor, and so it was last month when Kevin King ’15 argued before the First District Court of Appeal — after having spent his entire 3L year as a Lawyers for America Fellow training with the First District Appellate Project, a non-profit law office that represents indigent appellants in criminal appeals.
Lawyers for America (LfA) was founded by Acting Chancellor & Dean David Faigman and Professor Marsha Cohen in 2011 to improve the practical skills of new lawyers, to expand the availability of legal services for those who cannot afford lawyers, and to increase the ability of government and nonprofit legal offices to render such services. To accomplish these goals, LfA works with law schools, governmental organizations, and legal nonprofits to create two-year fellowships comprising a training year that is the students’ final year of law school and a service year that is their first as new attorneys.
“Kevin was just the type of UC Hastings student that benefits most from Lawyers for America,” says Mai Linh Spencer, LfA Academic Director. “He knew he wanted to go into public service and recognized the tremendous experiential learning opportunity and rare post-graduate job security that LfA provides. Starting one’s legal career at FDAP is remarkable. I remember how intimidating my first argument in the Court of Appeal was . . . and I was almost 10 years out of law school. But Kevin is well-prepared through his fellowship, and he’s a natural litigator, so I know he has a very bright future.”
“Kevin King has been a wonderful addition to our office,” says Jonathan Soglin, Executive Director of the First District Appellate Project (FDAP). “Lawyers for America has allowed us to employ a talented young attorney at a time when the organization faces tough budget constraints. FDAP has enjoyed investing in Kevin as a lawyer and giving him the unique opportunity of arguing a case in the California Court of Appeal only a year after graduating. Most attorneys don’t have this opportunity until well into their careers. Kevin did a tremendous job with an interesting legal issue, and was even complimented by the Court at the conclusion of his argument.”
Says King: “After my first oral argument in the First District Court of Appeal, I feel like I finally found my voice in the legal profession. It took a lot of work to get to this point and it all started with LfA. Placed at the First District Appellate Project, I’ve developed all the essential skills to litigate an appellate case from start to finish. I came to law school to become a social justice advocate and now I’m armed to build a better tomorrow.”
Other LfA placements include: District Attorney and Public Defender offices, City Attorneys, as well as environmental and other non-profit law offices.