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DLA Piper Baltimore associate dedicating first year to pro bono work

Nicole Daya (Submitted photo)

Nicole Daya (Submitted photo)

When she was a law student, Nicole Daya was passionate about pro bono work. As a first-year associate at one of the largest firms in the world, Daya will get the chance to focus on providing legal services to underserved populations – without having to worry about billable hours.

Daya is one of two new associates selected for DLA Piper’s Krantz Fellowship Program and the first fellow based out of Baltimore. Working out of the firm’s Mount Washington office, Daya splits her time between working on pro bono cases in the U.S. and on projects through New Perimeter, the firm’s nonprofit affiliate that provides legal assistance to underserved regions abroad.

Fellows get paid the same salary they would otherwise receive as a first-year associate.

“The fellowship program has proven to be a successful means of providing valuable experience and professional development skills to new associates, while bolstering our pro bono efforts in the US and abroad,” said Lisa Dewey, director of New Perimeter and U.S. pro bono partner for DLA Piper, in a statement.

The program, now in its seventh year, was created in honor of Sheldon Krantz, a former director of New Perimeter and of counsel in the firm’s Washington office.

Daya participated in the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law’s clinical law program in its health care delivery and landlord tenant clinics in her third year. She also did an externship providing legal services to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families for Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law) at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Daya learned about the Krantz Fellowship while working as a summer associate at DLA Piper last year and worked on three pro bono assignments during her 10 weeks with the firm.

“I got an impression of how important pro bono work is at the firm,” Daya said.

She was accepted into the fellowship program in May and joined in October.

As a fellow, Daya has been doing research on cases about gender-based issues, domestic violence and access to juvenile justice for New Perimeter. Daya will also get to work on New Perimeter projects in Africa and supporting the growth of pro bono work in Latin America.

Her domestic pro bono work through the firm has been around education advocacy and landlord-tenant issues. Once she receives her law license, Daya will start working on immigration cases. (She passed the bar in July.)

“I’m looking forward to that because it’s something I’m definitely passionate about,” Daya said.

The fellowship helps first-year associates learn about local legal services programs and build an international network, said Anne Geraghty Helms, the firm’s director and counsel for U.S. pro bono programs.

“They have such an interesting and varied background when their fellowship is over,” said Helms, who is based in Chicago. “They’re set up in ways that are different from most new associates.”

Daya’s fellowship will end in December 2018 and she will transition into a traditional associate role within the firm’s practice groups. She plans to stay in touch with some pro bono initiatives, including providing legal services and other support to veterans, survivors of domestic violence and families in danger of losing their homes.

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