The Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, has named Alex Chasick '08 its Esther Peterson Public Interest Fellow for 2008-2009. Chasick will assume the one-year fellowship at the organization's Washington, D.C. office in September. The fellowship focuses on consumer advocacy projects such as: health care reform, product safety, access to affordable financial services, food safety, telecommunications, and other consumer issues.
Chasick will work on consumer issues at the federal and regulatory level. He will conduct legal research and writing, bill analysis, lobby Congress and administrative agencies, and file petitions at administrative agencies.
Chasick said he was never interested in the "big firm" life and went to law school because it "would present more options." He had a strong interest in using his law degree to do good and fulfill William & Mary's citizen lawyer mandate, and found his calling in consumer advocacy. Chasick said he was exposed to consumer advocacy issues partly through his work on the Consumerist, a popular online web log dedicated to tracking consumer complaints and issues.
"It's a much wider scope," said Chasick on the move from the Consumerist to the Consumers Union. "It's exciting to move from individual casework to the institutional level."
In particular, Chasick said he was interested in working to abolish or reform the mandatory arbitration clauses present in everything from credit card agreements to law firm employment handbooks. According to Chasick, the clauses hurt consumers, and only help the businesses that are repeat players in the system.
"It's wonderful that Alex's longstanding track record of public service and his commitment to consumer protection were recognized with such a well-deserved professional achievement," said Robert Kaplan, the Law School's Associate Dean for Career Services and Public Service Initiatives.
Chasick was selected by a blue-ribbon panel which included Steve Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, Iver Peterson, a reporter for the New York Times, and Teresa Schwarts, a former professor of public interest law at George Washington University.
The fellowship is named after one of history's leading consumer, women, and labor advocates, Esther E. Peterson. She advised three Presidents on consumer policy issues, and she represented the international consumer movement in a leading advocacy role at the United Nations.
Chasick is a native of Milford, CT, and received his B.A. in American politics and policy from Tulane University. Before law school he worked at Commonfund, an investment corporation for nonprofit organizations. Alex received a 2006 Katrina Summer Corps Fellowship from Equal Justice Works to volunteer with the Pro Bono Project in New Orleans, helping the city rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.