Alayna Bartko, ’19, Named to the 2019 Class of Equal Justice Works Fellows

Equal Justice Works, the nation's largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today named its 2019 Class of Equal Justice Works Fellows. Seventy-six recent law school graduates will launch their careers through an Equal Justice Works Fellowship project of their own design, including University of Pittsburgh School of Law class of 2019 graduate, Alayna Bartko.
Selected from 450 applications, the 2019 Class of Equal Justice Works Fellows includes graduates from 39 law schools who will work at 73 legal services organizations in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
The 2019 Class of Equal Justice Works Fellows have created projects to address a wide range of legal issues. Alayna will establish an innovative and replicable advocacy program providing specialized legal support to children whose parents struggle with opioid addiction and are involved in juvenile court dependency cases.
As a Certified Legal Intern at KidsVoice, a non-profit agency that advocates in court and in the community to ensure a safe and permanent home for abused, neglected, and at-risk children, Alayna witnessed the tragedies that bring children into dependency proceedings, including the heart-wrenching cases that involve children who are victims of the opioid epidemic through its impact on their parents. Alayna strives to continue advocating for the children in her community who are affected by this crisis.
During her fellowship, Alayna will be part of task forces and committees to develop best practices to advocate for children whose families struggle with opioid addiction. Alayna will work with community stakeholders to establish better collaboration across the child welfare and substance abuse systems. She will also partner with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to pursue legal strategies to address opioid­-related health issues.
“I have always been drawn to work that involves advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Children impacted by the opioid epidemic deserve staunch advocates in their corner and I am proud that it gets to be me,” said Alayna.
Each year, Equal Justice Works selects a class of passionate public service leaders who have designed projects in partnership with legal services organizations that help build sustainable solutions in the communities where they serve. The projects are funded by the generous support of law firms, corporations, foundations, and individuals. Many of the law firms and corporate legal departments leverage their sponsorship to increase engagement and service through pro bono support. 
"The Equal Justice Works Fellowship program offers aspiring public interest lawyers an opportunity to do so much more than provide legal representation—it's an opportunity to become a force for change," said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. "We are excited to welcome these new Fellows and look forward to seeing how they will help balance the scales of justice in our country."
Over the past three decades, Equal Justice Works has awarded more than 2,000 Fellowships to lawyers committed to public service. More than 85 percent of Fellows remain in public service, continuing to pursue equal justice for underserved communities across the country.
Learn more about Alayna’s project here.