Verizon Public Interest Fellowship
Zahra Bazmjow '10 will advocate for victims of domestic violence
Zahra Bazmjow was named the Seton Hall Law Verizon Public Interest Postgraduate Fellow for 2011-12, a program founded to provide free legal services to low-income victims of domestic violence and create a cadre of knowledgeable and experienced lawyers dedicated to helping those affected by domestic abuse. Created with a grant from the Verizon Foundation, the Verizon Public Interest Fellowship Program is a collaborative effort with several regional social service agencies.
Bazmjow’s interest in the law sparked when she took a job as a receptionist at a small law firm in California after graduating from UCLA in 2005. Little did she know that her work there would set the foundation for her future career.
Quickly promoted to legal assistant, she worked on a case to help a family obtain a humanitarian visa for a child in Uganda suffering from health problems. “It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” she recalls. “Right then I knew I wanted to go to law school and work to serve the underprivileged community.”
Growing up in California, Bazmjow was always drawn to the New York City area. So when it came time to apply to law school, she learned about Seton Hall Law and it quickly rose to the top of her list. “Seton Hall Law was one of my top choices not only because of its proximity to New York, but after my experience at the law firm I was also really interested in the clinical programs offered through the Center for Social Justice.”
Eager to experience all that Seton Hall Law offered, Bazmjow took advantage of both the Cairo and Zanzibar study abroad programs. But what affected her the most was her participation in the Family Law Clinic. “The practical experience I gained was priceless. Jessica Miles, my supervising professor, was a great mentor who really got me interested in the field of family law, particularly representing victims of domestic violence. I learned so much from her and I am so grateful for her guidance,” she says. “I helped prepare for hearings and was able to see court and how judges presided over cases. It was one of the most amazing experiences I had in law school.”
Her passion, dedication and hard work did not go unnoticed: for her work as a student attorney, Bazmjow received the Outstanding Clinical Practitioner Award. After graduating from Seton Hall Law, Bazmjow began a clerkship for Judge Thomas J. Walsh of the New Jersey Superior Court, Family Part.
Once again, fate played a hand in shaping her career. “Right before I started the clerkship I got an e-mail from the judge that he had been reassigned to the domestic violence docket,” she says. “It was a great learning experience working so closely with Judge Walsh.”
It was during this time that Bazmjow heard about the Verizon Public Interest Fellowship program. Verizon and the Verizon Foundation have made it a priority to provide community education to prevent and address domestic violence, with a goal to "stop the violence before it begins." The Law School implemented its first Verizon Public Interest Fellow in 2009-10 and gratefully accepted continued support in Spring 2011. “As soon as I heard about it I applied. I feel my job as an attorney is to help serve the underprivileged populations through public interest work,” she says.
“Between my work at the clinic and my clerkship, I have quite a bit of domestic violence experience and I really felt I could make a difference in my term as a fellow.” Bazmjow began work at Partners for Women and Justice in September. “Our clients are in really difficult situations and are in a period of their life where everything is in turmoil,” she says. “I am really excited to begin work on my own cases and help serve my clients.”