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Press Release

NIU Law Graduate Marishonta Wilkerson
Awarded Fellowship from Illinois Bar Foundation

September 23, 2015

Marishonta Wilkerson

DeKalb, Ill.--The Illinois Bar Foundation (IBF), the charitable arm of the Illinois State Bar Association, has awarded one of its 2015 Post Graduate Legal Fellowships to Marishonta Wilkerson, a 2015 graduate of Northern Illinois University College of Law. During the one-year Fellowship, she will work at the school’s Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford.

“Marishonta had already stood out in her work as a law student at our Rockford Clinic,” said NIU Law Dean Mark Cordes. “This Fellowship enabled us to bring her back to the clinic to continue her outstanding work in serving an underrepresented population – and allowed us to help her launch her career in public interest law.”

The IBF launched its Post Graduate Legal Fellowship Program in 2014 to fund public interest jobs for recent law graduates. Wilkerson joins two students from Loyola University School of Law and University of Illinois College of Law. IBF will contribute $25,000 to each of the three Fellowships and the law schools will fund the remainder. The law schools were charged with selecting the recipients. 

“The need for public interest lawyers far outweighs the number of lawyers willing and able to serve the underrepresented people living throughout Illinois,” said Shawn Kasserman, IBF president. “The Fellowship program was created to provide on-the-job training for new lawyers while simultaneously helping to fill the gap in legal aid services.” 

“I am thrilled to be able to continue the work I started as a law student in the school’s civil justice clinic,” said Marishonta Wilkerson. “Each day is so different at the clinic. One day I could be working on a child custody case, the next a divorce, or another day on writing a will. I am so grateful for this opportunity to continue to serve the Rockford community, while gaining valuable experience in public interest law.” 

Wilkerson and her fellowship have garnered significant attention already. She was asked to speak at an IBF gala event and has also been the subject of significant local media coverage.

NIU Law opened the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford in 2001 and added a juvenile program there in 2011. NIU Law also operates a foreclosure mediation clinic in Kane County and a health advocacy clinic at Hesed House, a homeless clinic in Aurora, assisting patients with legal matters. 

For more information on the IBF Post Graduate Legal Fellowships Program, contact David Anderson, IBF Executive Director at (312) 726-6072. Further information about the Foundation is available at www.illinoisbarfoundation.org.

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For more information, contact:
Melody Mitchell
Alumni Events & Public Relations
(815) 753-9655 or

mmitchell@niu.edu

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