University News

School of Law Announces Inaugural Eisenberg Social Justice Fellowship Recipients

Published: August 01, 2022 | Categories: Law, All News
Blake Law Center

Western New England University (WNE) School of Law is pleased to announce the two inaugural recipients of the Eisenberg Social Justice Fellowship, Rafael Irizarry-Fields (2L) and Natasha Claudio (1L). Rafael and Natasha will both be engaged in novel legal projects to expand the reach and impact of legal organizations that provide free legal services to underserved communities in Western Massachusetts.

The Eisenberg Social Justice Fellowship was established by an anonymous donor to honor Attorney Stewart 'Buz' Eisenberg, a graduate of WNE School of Law with a distinguished record of social justice lawyering. The fellowship is intended to enrich and enhance the education of law students by offering funding to selected recipients to encourage pro bono service and to provide hands-on learning with legal organizations whose mission involves benefitting marginalized communities; combating economic inequality; promoting environmental justice; supporting worker's rights; promoting civil rights and vindicating their denial; or other social justice initiatives that advance or protect human rights, civil liberties, or constitutional rights.

Rafael Irizarry-Fields is spending the summer as a legal intern in the new Holyoke office of the Committee for Public Counsel Service's (CPCS) Public Defender Division. He will be working to increase the capacity of the new Holyoke office, further engage with the community and understand its needs, improve the delivery of legal and other services to persons who encounter the criminal justice system and more holistically assess client needs. As part of these efforts, he hopes to develop deeper connections with stakeholders and service providers through programming for town halls, responsive know-your-rights styled trainings, and further develop intake and triage strategies. In addition to working to advance the larger, structural efforts of the office, Irizarry-Fields will be handling and assisting with arraignments, bail arguments, and any other in court or litigation activities of the office as an SJC 3:03 certified student attorney.

Natasha Claudio is interning with the Education Law Unit at Community Legal Aid in Springfield throughout the summer. She will be working with the unit staff attorneys to better understand important legislation and law reform in the context of special education issues, student disciplinary disputes, and language access issues that present challenges at the intersections of race, socioeconomic status and special education services. Claudio will be assisting staff attorneys with filing complaints, researching relevant issues under Massachusetts law, attending meetings with school officials, and advocating for students in need of special education services who may not be receiving their full rights under federal special education laws. Claudio will also spend time collaborating with bilingual education professionals to ensure that bilingual students are receiving the education services they need and reviewing student Individual Educational Plans.

For more information about the Eisenberg Social Justice Fellowship contact: Assistant Director of Law Career Services & Public Interest Coordinator Kaitlin Pomeroy-Murphy at or Professor of Legal Research & Writing Harris Freeman at