Anne Gallerano and Alyssa Slaimen, two members of Notre Dame Law School’s Class of 2019, 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.
Gallerano will be a Shaffer Fellow at Equip for Equality in Chicago, and Slaimen will be a Shaffer Fellow at the Hawai’i Innocence Project in Honolulu, Hawaii. Both students said the fellowship is enabling them to do the type of public interest work that inspired them to pursue a legal career.
“As a Shaffer Fellow, I will be able to help individuals with mental illness in Chicago find work, stay employed, and achieve the success, independence, and dignity that come from sustained employment,” Gallerano said. “Without the fellowship, I would not have had the opportunity to pursue this work right after graduation.”
Slaimen said, “I am very excited to be able to pursue my passion for working on wrongful convictions after graduation, and it would not have been possible without the Thomas L. Shaffer Fellowship. Innocence work is a very niche part of the law with few entry-level opportunities, but with the support of Notre Dame and the Shaffer Fellowship, I am able to help correct miscarriages of justice and give hope to one of the most overlooked populations in our country.”
Through her project, Gallerano will work to break down barriers to employment for people with mental illness.
Gallerano earned her bachelor’s degree in American studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout law school, she interned for multiple public interest organizations such as the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas during the summer after her 1L year, the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice in the summer after her 2L year, and the National Immigrant Justice Center during 2L spring. She also completed the Appalachia externship over spring break her 2L year.
Slaimen’s project will involve working on wrongful conviction cases from start to finish. Slaimen will file post-conviction petitions on behalf of clients and create legislative proposals to strengthen Hawaii’s Conviction Integrity Unit and to combat the issue of wrongful conviction during the initial criminal proceeding.
Slaimen earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Northern Vermont University. While at Notre Dame, she has been active in exoneration work, volunteering for Notre Dame’s Exoneration Project for two years and working for the Exoneration Project in Chicago during the summer after her 2L year and the spring semester of her 3L year.
Gallerano and Slaimen are in the ninth 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 19 fellows to complete projects at 16 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 2018 are completing their fellowships in Portland, Oregon, and Madison, Wisconsin.