The Peggy Browning Fund has awarded fellowships to three Michigan Law students: rising 2Ls Hannah Cohen Smith and Nina Leeds, and rising 3L Kaleb TerBush. The organization accepted over 100 law students into its nationwide fellowships program from a pool of more than 700 applicants—the largest cohort in its 25-year history.
Peggy Browning Fellowships provide law students with work experiences fighting for social and economic justice, which inspires them to pursue careers in public interest labor law. The fellows have demonstrated their commitment to workers’ rights through their previous educational, work, volunteer, and personal experiences.
Hannah Cohen Smith, whose fellowship is at the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh, attributes her commitment to workers’ rights to watching her father advocate for educators and serve as president of his teachers’ union, the Seminole Education Association. That commitment continues during her fellowship.
“The most valuable thing I’ve learned about my fellowship so far has been seeing how attorneys fit into the overall labor movement by supporting union members' individualized needs,” she says. “The modern labor movement involves so many complex, changing issues, and it's been so helpful learning what lawyers can and cannot do to address the problems affecting workers.”
At U-M, she serves on the boards of the Women Law Students Association and the Street Law Pro Bono Project, where she teaches weekly legal lessons to kids at the Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center.
As a graduate of New York City Public Schools, Nina Leeds comes full circle in her fellowship with the New York State United Teachers in Latham, New York.
“I have been particularly lucky because I am able to complete my fellowship with NYSUT, an organization I feel especially connected to because my mother, and many of my earliest mentors, are proud NYSUT members,” she says.
Leeds, who served as a 1L Representative for the Michigan Immigration and Labor Law Association, always had an interest in labor and employment law and majored in industrial and labor relations as an undergraduate at Cornell.
Says Leeds: “Being able to apply my undergraduate education, as well as what I’ve learned in my first year at Michigan Law, has been so exciting and has really helped confirm that I indeed want to pursue a career in labor and employment law.”
Kaleb TerBush’s fellowship is at United Auto Workers in Detroit, a fitting organization for the lifelong Michigander and son of union teachers.
“I've always believed that the labor movement and unions are crucial in the fight for economic justice,” he says. During law school, TerBush has represented unemployment insurance claimants in the Workers’ Rights Clinic, co-led the Eviction Defense Team, and sat on the executive board of the National Lawyers Guild student chapter.
He spent last summer with a civil legal services organization assisting clients with eviction proceedings, public benefits claims, and expungements. After law school, Kaleb looks forward to a career in the labor movement advocating for workers and a more economically just society.
“Spending my summer with a labor union and learning about the work labor lawyers do has been an invaluable experience that will help me hit the ground running as an advocate for working people after graduation.”