Two members of the William & Mary Law School Class of 2022, Majesta-Doré Legnini and Zachary R.M. Outzen, have been selected for Equal Justice Works fellowships.
Equal Justice Works selects a class of public interest lawyers who have designed unique projects in partnership with legal services organizations. These projects are funded by law firms, corporations, private foundations, and individual supporters. Selected from 385 applications, the 2022 class of Equal Justice Works Fellows includes graduates from 45 law schools who will work at 76 legal services organizations across 20 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Among this year’s 81 sponsors are 31 leading law firms recognized in the Am Law 200 and 25 Fortune 500 corporations.
“Equal Justice Works is proud to support Zach and Majesta-Doré in their efforts to combat barriers to stable access to care and recovery in our country,” said Jessica Ryckman, Equal Justice Works Director of Fellowships. “We look forward to seeing the impact of their Equal Justice Works Fellowships over the next two years.”
Legnini’s fellowship is hosted by the Legal Aid Justice Center and sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. Her service location will be Richmond, Virginia.
During her fellowship, Legnini will establish a medical-legal partnership with the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System to provide wrap-around legal services to patients in the Emergency Department.
Legnini will counsel patients on health insurance appeals, appeal improper denials of public benefits, and train medical providers to spot legal needs warranting referral. She will also work with community partners to provide community education about access to care.
“To have the amazing privilege to return to Richmond and join Legal Aid Justice Center to partner with VCU Health has truly been the dream since before I ever came to law school,” Legnini said.
Legnini holds a B.A. in political science and B.S. in health and physical education from VCU. At William & Mary, she served as a student law clerk in the Immigration Clinic; as Editor-in-Chief of the William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice; and as research assistant for Professor Myrisha Lewis.
Outzen’s fellowship is hosted by the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), and sponsored by the Lavan-Harris Charitable Fund. The service location will be Washington, D.C.
Through NVLSP’s Lawyers Serving Warriors® (LSW) program, Outzen will create the first-of-its-kind national pro bono network for legal assistance with Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) claims and appeals. He will train pro bono attorneys on TSGLI claim representation, place claimants seeking assistance with these volunteers, and mentor pro bono advocates as they assist TSGLI claimants.
Outzen will also employ a community lawyering model to reach traumatically injured service members by conducting Know-Your-Rights presentations, developing educational resources on TSGLI applications, and hosting legal clinics for TSGLI claim assistance. He will also increase access to TSGLI benefits by using administrative and legislative avenues to engage in systemic advocacy.
A graduate of Christopher Newport University with a B.A. in English Language and Literature, Outzen served as Symposium Editor (Vol. 46) of the William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review; as a Certified Legal Extern in the Richmond Public Defender's Office; as a law clerk in the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic; and as an RA for Prof. Eric Kades.
“I can't express enough gratitude for this opportunity; I’ve long been passionate about social justice advocacy, and the first cause I took up as an idealistic high schooler was poverty in military and veterans’ families,” Outzen said. “I can think of no better way to start my career as a public interest attorney than taking up the same cause that inspired me all those years ago.”
Moriah H. Berger Allen, Assistant Dean in William & Mary Law School’s Office of Career Services, helped guide Legnini and Outzen through the lengthy and extensive EJW application and interview processes, and her efforts paid off.
“Working in partnership with Majesta-Doré and Zach, beginning in their first year of law school and continuing through their second and third years, has been one of the highlights of my time at William & Mary,” Allen said. “They have both displayed unwavering commitment to innovative public interest lawyering, and it has been so rewarding to watch them succeed.”
Legnini and Outzen will begin their fellowship work this fall. Learn more.About William & Mary Law School
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America’s first law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.