LSU Law has provided five recent graduates who work in public service positions in Louisiana with funding through the Loan Repayment Assistance Program established earlier this year with support from the Kendall Vick Public Law Foundation.
ReAzalia Allen (’15), Teddi Buller (’19), Alex Hertenstein (’16), David Hogan (‘18) and Fahreta Muminovic (’15) have each received $5,000 through the program, which aims to remove the barriers to public interest practice for those who have incurred significant debt to finance their legal education.
Allen is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Section 27, Division J, Civil Court at the 19th Judicial District Court, working under the supervision of Judge Trudy M. White. Buller is Judicial Law Clerk for the Hon. Jason Meche in the 27th Judicial District Court in Opelousas. Hertenstein and Hogan are Assistant Public Defenders at the East Baton Rouge Office of the Public Defender. Muminovic is Senior Staff Attorney at Catholic Charities Archdioceses of New Orleans—Immigration Legal Services.
Each says the funding from the LSU Law Loan Repayment Assistant Program will help them pay down their student debt and continue working in public interest practice; work that they all say is deeply rewarding.
“The most rewarding aspect of working in the public arena is making an impact on the lives of members of the public, the judiciary and the bar. I have made some lifelong connections and I have contributed greatly to society through my work as a Staff Attorney, especially while serving as a Criminal Staff Attorney. Most times the Staff Attorney is the only direct connection to the Judge and can relay valuable insight on various cases and situations. I treat every case as if it’s someone’s life, whether on the criminal bench or on the civil bench.”
“It is has been a great honor to be able to work around both judges and indigent defenders in St. Landry Parish. More than ever, it is important to listen to those who are underrepresented and I am proud to have been able to see true justice and empathy at my job. To be aware of one’s privilege of education and be able to use that to help a wide array of persons is incredibly satisfying. I am so thankful to the Kendall Vick Public Law Foundation for choosing me to receive funding. I hope to continue throughout my career the privilege of serving the community in which I live.
“I prepare criminal defenses for clients who are charged with both felonies and misdemeanors. This includes trial preparation, preliminary hearings and conferences. I am in court every day and I interact with clients daily. The most rewarding aspect of my job is that many of my clients made harmless mistakes and deserve second chances. Many of my clients are young working-class people and a criminal record makes their future career prospects dim. I feel rewarded when I am able to get such cases dismissed or reduced.”
“About one-third of my 150 cases are felonies and the rest are misdemeanors, so I represent people accused of everything from misdemeanor theft and driving under the influence up to simple burglary, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, drug possession, etc. There are many rewarding aspects about public service. It is truly meaningful, worthwhile, and fulfilling to help people day in and day out by lifting up the voices of those who society has traditionally silenced and oppressed: people who are black, brown, and other people of color, and those struggling with poverty or addiction. People are more than the worst day of their lives or the sum of their bad acts and my job lets them remind the court and community of who they are, what their story is, and that they matter.”
“My primary responsibilities include providing direct representation to minor and adult clients in several venues, including before the immigration court, state juvenile court, and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Additionally, I regularly meet with community partners to raise awareness regarding the challenges undocumented survivors face and to collaborate, identify, and provide comprehensive services to the population we serve. I also enjoy helping immigrants gain access to all the opportunities afforded in this country. It reminds me of my personal journey as an immigrant survivor and makes me grateful each day for the ability to pave the way for my clients to achieve the same, if not even greater, goals.”