Two of Nation’s Top Law School Grads Join Shelby County Public Defenders

MEMPHIS, TN, 7/26/2012 – One Yale Law School graduate and another from the University of Alabama School of Law will spend the next three-years with the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office as part of a nationwide program encouraging widespread justice reform.

The Public Defender Corp program is led by Equal Justice Works and The Southern Public Defender Training Center (SPDTC.) More than 450 promising law graduates from the across the country applied for the 2012 program, but only 19 fellows were chosen. The fellows receive intensive training, mentorship and support throughout their 3-year commitment to public defender offices in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 4.05.16 PMThis marks the first time Memphis has been included in the program.

The PD Fellows are Katherine Oberembt of Yale Law School and Laurie Sansbury of the University of Alabama School of Law.

“These new lawyers come out of law school ready to change the world and through the Public Defender Corps they have an avenue to do it,” said Jonathan Rapping, Founder and President of SPDTC. “They are given an intensive training experience and are supported by a faculty of some of the best public defenders in the country.”

 As part of the program, two current Shelby County public defenders will also take part in the same training as the new fellows. Assistant public defenders Brooke Hyman and Ben Rush have been selected to go through the SPDTC.

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“By sending current public defenders through the same world-class training as the fellows, we are building on our base of attorneys dedicated to criminal justice reform.This level of training is crucial to the kind of work we must do here in Memphis,” said Stephen C. Bush, Chief Shelby County Public Defender. “Not only must we uphold the constitutional mandate to advocate for those facing incarceration, but we must do so in a way that is client-centered, community-based and addresses more of the underlying needs of our clients. Our involvement with PD Corps is one step toward achieving this.”