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Public Interest

Graduate Launches Career with Major Fellowship

Heather Odell ’23 to serve immigrants in Florida in program she designed with Equal Justice Works.

Heather Odell ’23 

Heather Odell ’23 has been awarded an Equal Justice Works Design-Your-Own Fellowship, one of the most prestigious and competitive post-graduate legal fellowships in the country. She will represent immigrants experiencing homelessness in Miami-Dade County on behalf of Catholic Legal Services.

Each year, Equal Justice Works (EJW) recruits law school graduates from around the nation who have partnered with legal services organizations to design their own two-year fellowship projects in order to serve and support the communities for which they advocate. Law firms, corporations, foundations, and individual donors fund these projects. Seventy-six public interest lawyers were chosen this year and will spend the next two years working in underserved and under-resourced communities. Odell’s fellowship is sponsored by the Greenberg Traurig law firm.

“It is a joy and privilege to welcome these passionate public service leaders who share our vision of equal access to justice for all,” said Equal Justice Works CEO Verna Williams in a statement announcing this year’s fellows.

Odell will work onsite in Miami-Dade County, offering legal services and education opportunities at homeless shelters and will advocate for clients on the issues of immigration and public benefits.

“I am honored and thrilled to be joining Catholic Legal Services’ dedicated team as an EJW Fellow,” Odell said. “It is also an incredible opportunity to respond creatively to my clients’ needs through holistic advocacy, and to do so in partnership with community leaders, local shelters, and the fantastic CLS team.”

EJW’s Design-Your-Own program allows fellowship applicants to create a program of work that best suits their passions and interests and gives them the flexibility they need to serve their communities. If they are selected as a fellow, they are able to enact this program with the help of their host organization.

“Heather is going to be a phenomenal advocate for her clients in Miami and a wonderful addition to the legal services community,” said BC Law Public Interest and Pro Bono Program Director Michelle Grossfield. “Since arriving at BC Law she has wholeheartedly immersed herself in clinical, experiential and academic opportunities that will equip her to not only provide zealous and exemplary client representation but that will also enable her to think critically and creatively about the systemic challenges advocates and clients are facing and effective solutions. She possesses the dedication and compassion necessary to work with individual clients and also the training and expertise to move the needle forward for communities.” 

While at BC Law, Odell was a student attorney in the Civil Rights Clinic as well as the Immigration Clinic. She also interned at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Migration Policy Institute, Mercy Corps, and Lawyers for Civil Rights. She was enrolled as a dual degree student, and in May received her JD from BC Law as the class valedictorian and a master’s in Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University.

She will begin her work with EJW in the fall of 2023.