Alyssa Phillips, a member of Notre Dame Law School’s Class of 2017, pursued a law degree with her sights set on a career providing legal aid to low-income people.
As the recipient of a prestigious Equal Justice Works Fellowship, she is well on her way to achieving that goal.
Phillips is one of only 39 law students who will receive one of the EJW Fellowships in 2017. She is the first Notre Dame Law student since 2004 to receive an EJW Fellowship.
She will work for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for two years. Her EJW Fellowship is sponsored by the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP and the pharmaceutical company AbbVie.
At the Coalition for the Homeless, she will focus on providing legal services in Chicago suburbs where there currently is a lack of legal resources for homeless families and work on eliminating barriers for homeless families to access preschools and schools, including charter and magnet schools, with selective enrollment.
“It’s my dream job,” Phillips said. “This is what I’ve wanted to do since before I was in college.”
Phillips grew up in Bend, Ore., and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.
She said she chose Notre Dame Law School because of its focus on ethics. Also, as a student interested in public-interest law, she appreciated the incorporation of Catholic social doctrine into what she found to be a holistic legal education.
Phillips said one course that had a particular impact on her was civil rights law taught by Jennifer Mason McAward, associate professor of law and director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
“Alyssa is an excellent student with a strong sense of mission,” McAward said. “She has a keen understanding of how law can impact a person’s daily life. She will be a tremendous advocate for those she serves.”
Phillips was involved at the Law School as president of the LGBT Law Forum and as a board member for the student chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She participated in the National Immigrant Justice Center Externship, the Appalachia Externship, and the Spring 2016 Common Good Initiative in Cuba.
She was an intern at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless during the summer of 2016 and interned at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in the summer of 2015.