Notre Dame Law School names 2018 Shaffer Fellows

Author: Katelynn McBride Barbosa


Ka’sha Bernard and Robert Lee, two members of Notre Dame Law School’s Class of 2018, are this year’s Thomas L. Shaffer Fellows.

The fellowship covers the cost of salary and benefits for two Notre Dame Law graduates to work for two years at a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that provides legal services to low-income or other underrepresented populations. Through the Thomas L. Shaffer Fellowship, fellows create their dream jobs. They select the organizations where they want to work and design the projects they will complete at those organizations.

Coincidentally, both 2018 Shaffer Fellows are completing environmental law projects. Bernard will be a Shaffer Fellow at the Crag Law Center in Portland, Oregon, and Lee will be a Shaffer Fellow at Midwest Environmental Advocates in Madison, Wisconsin.

Both students said the fellowship is enabling them to do the type of public interest work that inspired them to pursue a legal career.

“I’m really excited to do exactly what I wanted to do right out of law school, and I don’t think I could have done it without the fellowship,” Bernard said.

Lee said, “Environmental law is really competitive and most environmental law organizations are looking for people that have two to five years of experience. The Shaffer Fellowship gives me the entry-level experience I’ll need to pursue a long-term environmental law career.”

Bernard’s project will build an environmental justice community in Portland by bridging the gap between traditional conservationism and urban environmental health concerns.

Bernard earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies at Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge. She worked in public interest during both of her summers in law school. She worked at the Orleans Parish District Court in Louisiana during her 1L summer and at Craig Law Center her 2L summer.

Through his project, Lee will enhance Midwest Environmental Advocates’ ability to protect Wisconsin’s water resources by enforcing state and federal laws designed to safeguard public health and the environment.

Lee earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Arkansas. While at Notre Dame, he has also been active in pursuing public interest opportunities, especially in environmental law. He interned at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality his 1L summer and for Midwest Environmental Advocates his 2L summer.

Bernard and Lee are in the eighth class of Thomas L. Shaffer Fellows, continuing a long tradition of public interest at Notre Dame Law School.

Since the Shaffer Fellowship launched in 2011, the Law School has selected 17 fellows to complete projects at 14 organizations across the United States in cities such as Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. The current fellows from the Class of 2017 are completing their fellowships in Denver and Portland.