Innovation Grant Recipients – Second Cycle, Academic Year 2019-2020
Project Leader: Anita Yandle, JD ‘21 (2L)
In light of recent passage of laws criminalizing abortion, Anita Yandle wants to work to ensure reproductive healthcare is accessible for women. Drawing upon herexperience working with the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, Anita wants to create a system at Columbia University that helps women navigate complex laws, including flying people without documentation, bailing clients, and representing minors in judicial bypass hearings. Anita also envisions creating a guidebook to teach others how to navigate these laws. In creating this program, Anita hopes to ensure that all-volunteer organizations that have not previously had this help are properly supported, while providing an opportunity for CLS students to invest in complex project for pro bono hours.
Project Leader: Elsa Wyllie, LLM ‘20
Motivated by a social responsibility to address the urgency of climate change, Elsa Wyllie is stepping up to create impactful change at Columbia. After noticing a need at Columbia Law to create a more eco-friendly mindset, Elsa has proposed a multi-pronged approach to create a sustainable model for students and faculty to plastic. This includes lobbying to ensure the university’s endowment fund no longer holds investments in companies that generate more than 10 percent of their revenue from extraction of fossil fuels, building a borrowing space for students to donate old appliances or supplies for others to use, and banning single use plastic on campus.
Project Leader: Urvi Agarwal, LLM ‘20
Seeking to address the evolution of technology as one of the forefront fields in the world, Urvi Agarwal (LLM ‘20) is hoping to enable lawyers to both gain a competitive edge for clients and actively contribute to the shifting field of the intersections of technology and law. In a world where a basic understanding of computer programming is taken as a base understanding to thrive in most industries, technological literacy is becoming crucial in order for students to become lawyers who can successfully advise clients. As such, the goal of “Coding for Lawyers” is to both impart the importance of coding to law students, professors, and lawyers, and to enable these groups with the tools and opportunities to learn coding..
Project Leaders: Pamela Escano, Diana Pedi, Becca Shepler
Pamela Escano, Diana Pedi, and Becca Shepler are working to address how staff, specifically new and rising professionals with five or less years of experience at Columbia Law School, can feel supported to gain leadership skills and grow professionally. NPRHE is both important and timely because it supports the Law School’s ideals of being “a place of ideas, innovations, and impact.” The more engaged that staff are in professional development opportunities, the more likely they will be more effective in their roles.
Project Leader: Suz Kroeber, JD ‘21 (2L)
Upon identifying a need for free income tax preparation assistance in Northern Manhattan, Suz Kroeber (JD ‘21) was inspired to create a program for low-income tax assistance at Columbia Law School. By utilizing a small pilot program of a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Suz intends to expand the program into experiential learning to create a long-term sustainable program. Suz’s goal is to build upon this pilot program and transform it into a robust pro bono experience for the student body in time for the 2020 spring tax season in order to integrate tax assistance for low income individuals into the fabric of social justice work at CLS. In the long term, Suz would like to built the VITA site into a tax externship in order to create a critical site to conduct intake, source potential cases, and serve as community contact for members of the externship.
Project Leader: Amira Perryman, JD ‘21 (2L)
Inspired by The New York Times publication of the 1619 project, Amira Perryman (JD ‘21) hopes to show how slavery still affects our social, economic, and political structures today. By using the New York Times’ series, Amira hopes to start a broader conversation at Columbia Law School regarding slavery’s impact on the law and how this influences modern teachings of the law. In this capacity, Amira hopes to bring speakers to talk about the intersections of slavery and the law, create smaller working groups of faculty and students to brainstorm innovative ways to integrate the topic of slavery into the law school curriculum, and invite the student body into the conversation through school-wide panels or working groups.