Shari Genser '11
Receives Equal Justice Works Fellowship
For the past 25 years, Equal Justice Works (EJW) has provided paid public interest fellowships to law school graduates to provide legal assistance to under served populations and causes. Shari Genser '11, past President of the Seton Hall Law student organization, the Women’s Law Forum, and a dedicated advocate for victims of domestic violence as a Seton Hall Law student, is the 2012 Fellowship recipient.
The EJW fellowship program allows recent law school graduates who are interested in pursuing a career in public interest law to design and launch their projects through various non-profit legal service organizations. These projects encompass a variety of issues including domestic violence, homelessness, community economic development, immigration, civil rights, juvenile justice, employment rights, access to health care, consumer fraud and environmental justice.
Genser was selected by the Essex-Newark Legal Services office to apply for this fellowship under their supervision for the 2012–2014 fellowship term. In the fall, Genser will launch her program through the Essex-Newark Legal Services office to aid teenage victims of domestic violence in Essex County.
“I chose to focus on teen dating violence because it is a unique legal issue which was not being sufficiently addressed in the community,” says Genser. “I want to work with teenagers to stop the cycle of violence before it starts. I hope to empower young people by informing them of their legal rights and helping them understand that domestic violence should not be tolerated under any circumstances.”
Genser intends to, “educate domestic violence victims and potential victims with the hope of reducing their number.” Her plan: confront domestic violence, “openly and head on,” she says. “This is a serious nationwide problem which is far too often occurs behind closed doors. Domestic violence should not be swept under the rug; that only leads to more victims going without services.”
The special passion Genser shares for Essex County made it an obvious choice for her to concentrate her program. “I was raised in Essex County, went to college and law school in Essex County, and still live and work as a judicial law clerk in Essex County. Newark has significant legal needs that are not always addressed; instead, New York City and D.C. often get the funding. The local legal services here do not have the funds to meet the vast needs of this community.”
Seton Hall Law School was an integral factor for Genser’s receipt of the fellowship. “Professor Maya Gross held an information session during the spring of my third year,” says Genser. “Professor Jessica Miles, of the Family Law Clinic in the Center for Social Justice, was my ‘go-to’ person for drafting my fellowship proposal. Professor Jenny-Brooke Condon, of the CSJ Equal Justice Clinic, made herself available for a mock interview and provided guidance throughout the application process. They were both great resources, they really stepped up to the plate and were extremely supportive.”
In addition to tremendous faculty support, Genser credits her success to Seton Hall Law School for giving her the opportunity to do extensive pro bono work during her law school career. “I was an active participant in the annual Public Interest auction, Take Back the Night and the Courtroom Advocates Project. My clinical experience solidified my dedication to being an advocate for those who cannot stand up for themselves when justice needs to be done. Seton Hall allowed me to blossom. The multitude of inspiring young female professors inspired me to do something good. I wanted to follow in their footsteps and make them proud,” explains Genser.
Current Seton Hall Law students applaud their former classmate. Colleen Mullen ’12 said, “Shari was my adopted mentor and has completely guided me through law school. She has been a phenomenal public interest mentor. She deserves this honor!" Victoria Gonchar ’13 echoed Mullen’s thoughts, and added, “Shari’s proposal was so unique and relevant to New Jersey. New Jersey is in extreme need of such legal aid, and who better to provide it than Shari?”
Genser strongly believes in helping those that follow you, especially those in the Seton Hall community. “It’s important to maintain contact with the place you came from,” she says.
Shari Genser is the second Seton Hall Law recipient of the Equal Justice Works; Keri Logosso '99, now Executive Director of Wynona's House in Newark, is the first. Watch Keri Logosso's video profile here.
For more information regarding Equal Justice Works, visit the website at www.equaljusticeworks.org/post-grad.