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Alumnus wins fellowship to continue work on tenant rights

January 22, 2018

Penn Law alumnus George Donnelly L’15 has been awarded a Public Interest Law Fellowship from the Independence Foundation to continue his work with Philadelphia’s Public Interest Law Center representing tenants and developing strong legal protections for the housing rights of low-income Pennsylvanians.

The Independence Foundation’s Public Interest Law Fellowships fund lawyers working on direct representation of disadvantaged clients in the Philadelphia region.

“We are very proud of the important work George has been doing this past year, and excited that he will be continuing that work into the future,” said Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Associate Dean for Public Interest Programs and Executive Director of the Toll Public Interest Center. “Most low-income tenants face housing court alone, unable to afford legal representation, while landlords can often afford to hire lawyers. By advocating for low-income tenants who would otherwise face unfair evictions or unlivable conditions in their homes, George is helping tip the scales that have been weighted toward landlords back toward a fairer, more equitable balance of power.”

With the support of his fellowship, Donnelly will work with the Public Interest Law Center to directly represent tenants in Municipal Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and appellate courts to help them assert their legal rights against landlords.

Donnelly currently represents tenants at the Public Interest Law Center with the support of the Langer, Grogan & Diver Fellowship in Social Justice, a Penn Law postgraduate fellowship, and his new fellowship from the Independence Foundation will build on that work.

Prior to joining the Public Interest Law Center, Donnelly served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Stewart Dalzell of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Penn Law is committed to supporting students as they launch careers in the public interest. In addition to helping students apply for awards like Skadden Fellowships, the Law School also offers its own postgraduate fellowships to financially support graduates who pursue work at public interest organizations, government agencies, and NGOs.