On Friday, October 24, 2014, Mix IT Up! scholar Jhani Miller attended the Equal Justice Works: Helping Lawyers Help Communities Conference and Career Fair in Washington DC. The annual event brought together over 1,200 Law Students and Public Interest advocates to discuss matters related to nonprofit legal work and it featured sessions on engaging with communities and finding work in equal justice fields.
Bryan Stevenson, who is the Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and the author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice And Redemption gave the Keynote Address. Equal Justice Initiative is a private nonprofit 501(c)3 based in Montgomery, Alabama that provides legal representation to defendants and prisoners who, for one reason or another, initially received unfair treatment within the judicial system. They take the position to: “Litigate on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders, people wrongly convicted or charged with violent crimes, poor people denied effective representation, and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct. EJI works with communities that have been marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment” and have been doing so with much success.
Stevenson’s speech told personal stories about past clients and additionally, he gave advice on how to combat common problems many people face while working in this field of work. The speech emphasized the need for resilience, especially when our work feels futile or scary. After the talk, Stevenson did a meet and greet and he donated a signed copy of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice And Redemption to the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center, one of our community partner sites with the simple message inside: With Hope Of Justice.