Two Seattle U Law grads earn Equal Justice Works Fellowships

June 3, 2024 · By Nicole Jennings
Mary Bent and Katy Daley
Mary Bent '23 and Katy Daley '24

Two Seattle University School of Law graduates, Mary Bent '23 and Katherine (Katy) Daley '24, have earned prestigious Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellowships to pursue a social justice-oriented project of their choosing over the course of the next two years. Only 84 law school graduates across the country were chosen.

Bent will work with the Northwest Justice Project in Omak, a small town in north-central Washington, to provide civil legal aid to Native Americans who are victims of crimes, such as domestic violence, trafficking, elder abuse, and financial fraud. The project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs reports that rates of violence against Native Americans, especially Native American women, are disproportionately higher than those against other races. More than 80% of Native American and Alaska Native women have been victims of violence, and more than half have been victims of sexual violence.

Bent will connect her clients with social services and help them with family law matters, protection, and other needs.

“As a Native American woman from a low-income background, I’m honored and proud that my work will address the injustices that affect my community, and I can give back to the very people who shaped my path and my future in this world,” Bent said. “I don’t claim to know everything that plagues the people of this community, but I am honored to be able to carve the path toward a solution.”

Fresh out of Seattle U Law, Daley will work with the Seattle Clemency Project in Kent to help people serving life and long-term prison sentences obtain early release by encouraging prosecutors to support resentencing and connecting clients with representation and reentry services. The project is sponsored by Microsoft and Fish & Richardson P.C.

A 2020 Washington state law allows prosecutors to initiate resentencing procedures for certain incarcerated persons, but this does not include a legal right to a free attorney to advocate on their behalf.

Daley will screen and refer certain clients to prosecutors as potential candidates for resentencing. She will also recruit pro bono attorneys to represent certain incarcerated individuals in discretionary review processes, as well as provide pre- and post-release re-entry support.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to amplify the stories of individuals who have been incarcerated the longest in Washington state, while also engaging in more systemic advocacy through the implementation of this new early-release pathway,” Daley said.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., EJW aims to break down the financial and structural barriers that prevent talented candidates from pursuing careers in the public interest sector. Throughout the project term, Fellows receive the support they need to focus on helping their communities, including competitive salaries, benefits, and loan repayment assistance.

Previous EJW two-year fellowship recipients from Seattle U Law include Charla Boley ’23, Gabi Nava ’21, Vallen Solomon ’20, Javiera Wood ’20, Alex Romero '19, Hyun-Mi Kim '19, Archie Roundtree, Jr. '18, Nick Allen '10, and Erin Shea McCann '07.

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