Program on Church, State & Society announces 2019 summer fellows

Author: Denise Wager


The Notre Dame Law School Program on Church, State & Society has awarded summer fellowships to second-year law student David Spicer and first-year law students Judah Maxwell, Seth Sanders, and Sofia Skok. Each award includes a stipend to work in the area of religious institutions practice this summer.

David Spicer will work for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. He will perform research and assist with policy development in Migration and Refugee Services, the Office of International Justice and Peace, and the Office of the General Counsel. This multidisciplinary experience will expose him to a variety of issues, from federal immigration law to nuclear nonproliferation.

"I aspire to work in the public sector after graduation, so I am tremendously grateful for the opportunities provided by this fellowship," Spicer said. "As the highest episcopal authority of the Church in America, the USCCB is uniquely positioned to engage with a wide range of religious, social, political, and legal matters. For that reason, I cannot imagine a more diverse learning environment, and I could not be more excited to serve the Church in such a meaningful way."

Judah Maxwell will be working as legal counsel under the Chancellor for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City in the Secretariat for Administration. The Secretariat is responsible for the legal and administrative aspects of running a diocese.

“I converted into the Church while I was an undergraduate at Oklahoma City University, and I was struck by how much the people of the Archdiocese invested into me during this process. As such, I have been looking to give back to the people and Church that gave so much to me. This summer I will be working directly under two people who were instrumental in my journey into the Church, and I am thankful for being able to offer them back some of what they have given to me,” Maxwell said.

Seth Sanders will be placed at the law firm Wagenmaker & Oberly in Chicago, a firm that represents churches, religious orders, nationwide religious institutions, and other faith-based organizations.

"This fellowship will allow me to better learn how to represent religious and nonprofit institutions from a transactional standpoint. I will be able to see how attorneys handle items such as tax-exempt status and real estate issues in the nonprofit realm," Sanders said. "I look forward to developing my legal research and writing skills, and seeing how to effectively operate in an attorney-client relationship."

Sofia Skok will be interning at the Archdiocese of Chicago. She will work on a broad range of areas, including real estate, immigration, and labor and employment.

“With this fellowship, I am excited for the opportunity to explore the broad and unique ways in which the Catholic Church functions within the legal world,” Skok said. “Additionally, I look forward to continuing to develop my legal research and writing skills, especially while working within the cross section of Church and State.”

Richard Garnett, the Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law and faculty director of the Program on Church, State & Society, is thrilled to see the summer fellowship opportunity continue shaping future lawyers.

“Thanks to the support and generosity of Dean Newton and several benefactors, the Program on Church, State & Society summer fellowships help to advance Notre Dame Law School's distinctive mission, to form a 'different kind of lawyer,' and to expose students to the critically important practice area of religious-institutions law,” Garnett said.