SOL Magazine Spring 2023



and sense of dignity,” Brabbit said. “And as we thought about what it means to be a Catholic law school, we asked ourselves, ‘How are we addressing the justice gap?’ This seemed to be one positive way to contribute to that.” For many of the fellows, a one- year commitment has quickly turned into a permanent path forward. Sixty percent of placements have led to the fellow accepting a full-time position with their aid organization. “It has been inspiring to watch these attorneys get into the work and find a strong return on their life energy,” Brabbit said. “They’re realizing that their gifts are meeting a serious social need, and in addition to helping clients, the work is bringing meaning to them personally.” One of those fellows who is far from ready to say goodbye to that meaningful work is Paulo Castro ‘21 J.D. Originally from Brazil, Castro came to the University of St. Thomas School of Law looking to expand his horizons in the United States. He quickly found much more than he bargained for. “I had a wish of spending a year here just to see how it feels,” Castro said. “And now my wish is to keep doing my work here. I’ve realized how valuable I can be.” A staff attorney at the Minnesota Disability Law Center, Castro

is part of the youth services team. His fellowship ended last fall, but he received a full-time employment offer to stay and continue his work at the Disability Law Center. Castro focuses on cases involving special education students whose families run into roadblocks trying to access services across the state. He fields dozens of phone calls weekly from parents and caregivers, all hoping he’ll be able to unlock a pathway for their child to receive a better education. “Education changed my family’s life – I know how seriously education should be taken,” Castro said. “For my clients, it can change their lives, too, if they receive the appropriate services.” Often Castro works quickly with schools to establish those services for his clients. But he’s prepared to go to court if barriers remain. “They must be taken seriously and not discriminated against or segregated in the classroom,” Castro said. “Many parents just need someone to listen to them and point them in the right direction, but we can offer much more than that.” The Minnesota Disability Law Center is zeroed in on clients who cannot afford a private attorney. Creating access motivates Castro to keep fighting for each new

client who walks through the door. “Most of our clients are the ones who are the least favored in the community,” Castro said. “So, this is something I feel happy about, because I love to get to talk to people who are in need of legal advice, and to help them find a solution.”

With each passing year, the Archbishop Ireland Justice

Fellowship continues to grow. Six fellows received placements this past year, with leaders hoping to grow their numbers to 10 each year for the next decade. “We just don’t have enough lawyers to meet all of these needs,” Brabbit said. “Sometimes we hear there’s too many lawyers in the profession… well, actually there’s not enough lawyers doing this kind of work.” Despite that massive gap, St. Thomas is working to fill it, one lawyer at a time. As Maya Karrow comes to the end of her fellowship at Safe Passage, she’s not only working on a report for the Minnesota Legislature, but she’s also getting ready to pursue a career tackling more tough cases for families. “I just see it as a huge important piece of work that I got to be a part of,” Karrow said. “I’m so happy I got the opportunity to do this work.”

The groundbreaking study on Minnesota’s child protection system conducted by Maya Karrow and Richard Gehrman, executive director of Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota, was released in February 2023. Click on the QR code to read the final report.

Paulo Castro

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Spring 2023 Page 27

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