Detroit Mercy Law awards Voice for Justice Fellowship to two students

June 17, 2021

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law awarded Voice for Justice Fellowships to Katya Rowley and Abrial Neely. Detroit Mercy Law strives to teach students to be both skilled practitioners and compassionate professionals. This Fellowship upholds the long-standing tradition at Detroit Mercy Law of service to the community and provides students the opportunity to succeed while making a difference in the community. Fellowship recipients work over the summer as interns at nonprofit organizations. 


Rowley, a rising 3L in the Canadian and American Dual JD Program, is working at Haguruka-NGO in Rwanda. Haguruka is partnered with various global organizations, such as UN Women, Trocaire, and AmplifyChange, to conduct a variety of projects aimed at mitigating access to justice issues Rwandan women and children face. “I have diverse roles in my position here,” said Rowley. “I have worked extensively with the Communication’s Department on how to effectively relay information about women’s rights and legal issues to the public, drafted numerous reports outlining the variety of projects Haguruka is involved in, and I assisted with the drafting of their quarterly reports, as well as several grant applications.”  


Neely, a rising 2L, is working at Neighborhood Defender Service (NDS) in Detroit. “I felt compelled to work for NDS because of their holistic approach to serving clients,” said Neely. “Instead of mechanically practicing public defense work, the staff at NDS engages with its clients and is committed to addressing the obstacles and challenges associated with being involved in the criminal legal system.” Neely will be working on a variety of projects this summer, including researching and drafting memoranda, reviewing discovery, and compiling data reports to support policy recommendations.  


Working with her father who works primarily in Legal Aid in Windsor led Rowley to seek out opportunities to use her legal education in service of others. “I became acutely aware of the many barriers to justice, often systemic, that are faced by families. This includes the issues of poverty, abuse, and addiction that are often interwoven in these situations,” she explained.  


“I decided to apply to the fellowship because I wanted to be an Ambassador for Detroit Mercy Law,” Rowley commented. “I am proud of my school and our commitment to ‘the pursuit of justice, service to others, and the highest standards of the legal profession.’ Fully embracing the cliché of making a difference, I wanted to do just that on behalf of my school.” 


“The Constitution espouses equality for all, yet people of color and the poor remain disenfranchised by a deeply flawed system. Pursuit of justice was the very reason I decided to attend law school,” explained Neely. “I am committed to a career in Public Interest Law because it is still necessary. It is necessary for people to help those that are suffering and to challenge the unjust laws and policies that discriminate against and jeopardize the future of vulnerable groups. I will always fight for and protect those subjected to unequal treatment.”