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Public Service

New EJW Fellows Named

Equal Justice program selects record-setting three graduates for public service placements.

From left, Ayesha Ahsan, Chelsea Eddy, and Erica Taft are recipients of the 2024 EJW fellowship. 

For the first time, one of the country’s most prestigious legal fellowship programs has raised the number of BC Law recipients who will receive its competitive public service fellowships to three. Ayesha Ahsan, Chelsea Eddy, and Erica Taft were named by Equal Justice Works (EJW) to participate in two-year public service projects of their own making.

EJW provides law students the opportunity to design unique individual projects during a two-year fellowship term. The organization combats injustices in the legal system, bringing under-resourced communities to justice.

The focus of BC Law’s new fellows ranges from prisoners’ rights to immigration law reform to child advocacy.

Hosted by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Ahsan will tackle issues surrounding solitary confinement and the conditions prisoners are forced to bear. She plans to guide prisoners in solitary confinement through legal and administrative action to dispute their placement in solitary, while also advocating for resources for others in the system.

Ahsan was inspired to engage in this work by personal experience growing up in a community where she could see the effects of the carceral system. She will now serve as a voice to those who inspired her career.

“The carceral system destroys lives and communities in the name of ‘justice.’” she says. “As a first-generation Muslim American and a woman of color, I feel compelled to fight against such violence and work towards an end to these cruel systems.”

While at BC Law, Ahsan served as senior editor and co-chair of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Boston College Law Review. She was also a legal extern in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, and an intern at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

In Eddy’s work as the refugee community liaison to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker from 2014 to 2016, she realized a serious need for affordable and accessible legal aid, prompting her to pursue her law career. Through EJW fellowship, she will partner with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire to defend immigrant rights through use of Convention Against Torture (CAT) claims, as well as file amicus briefs for immigrants whose cases have been previously denied. Eddy also plans to assist immigration attorneys in representing CAT claims and employ new case law to provide CAT relief.

“In working with immigrant clients at risk of deportation, I learned the critical role that strategic impact litigation has in establishing and protecting immigrants’ rights,” Eddy says. “This fellowship will allow me to progress immigration law and ensure that immigrants can remain safely in the United States.”

While at BC Law, Eddy worked as a legal intern at Greater Boston Legal Services before serving as a Judicial Law Clerk in the New Hampshire Supreme Court. She is a founder and board member of Gallatin Refugee Connections and has worked as an executive note editor at Boston College Law Review.

Taft’s time as a forensic interviewer at the New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center in 2020 inspired her commitment to uplifting children and their voices. Her EJW fellowship with Lawyers for Children in New York will focus on child advocacy and domestic violence. She plans to work on cases presented to New York’s Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) courts and advocate for children fighting injustices in cases of abuse and custody. With Lawyers for Children, Taft plans to administer preventive measures in cases of domestic violence through legal rights education and other domestic violence prevention organizations in the community.

“From forensic interviewing in New Orleans to interviewing child rights activists in rural Nepal, representing children in domestic violence-related matters is a realization of my long-standing dream of being a child advocate and the culmination of my studies and experience over the past decade,” she says.

Taft has worked as a student attorney in both the Boston College Law School Defenders Clinic and the Family Justice Litigation Clinic. She received her JD in Law and master’s in Social Work this May from BC.

This year, EJW has selected 84 fellows from the class of 2024 to work across 84 host organizations to commit to acts of public service all across the United States.

“I am so honored to welcome these public service leaders to our Equal Justice Works community,” CEO Verna Williams says. “These new fellows advance our longstanding work of building a movement of public interest leaders who are transforming communities across the nation.”

Ahsan, Eddy, and Taft will begin their EJW fellowships in the Fall of 2024.