|Lindsay Ernst |
Photo by Bruce Gilbert
As a child, Lindsay Ernst never thought about how the court system impacted the lives of the foster children who lived with her and her parents. She simply thought they had a “really big family.” But she ultimately came to understand the dire circumstances that landed some of those children in the juvenile delinquency system, and she decided to do something to help.
After graduating from Fordham Law School this spring, Ernst will join the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society as a Skadden Fellow advocating for incarcerated juveniles.
“The fact that I have been able to put a human face on the issue of children’s rights has helped focus my career path,” said Ernst.
More than 20 foster children lived with the Ernst family at various times during her childhood in Old Saybrook, Conn., including two who were there during most of Ernst’s formative years. With that experience embedded in her memory, her career path was already cemented when she arrived at Fordham Law School.
“Lindsay is an extraordinary person, and her idealism and sense of justice reflect Fordham Law School’s deepest traditions,” said William M. Treanor, J.D., dean of Fordham Law School. “She is a woman of purpose and unyielding commitment who has dedicated herself to helping the disadvantaged.”
With more than 1,000 hours of pro bono service as a student, Ernst is one of only nine Fordham Law students in the class of 2005 to receive the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award at the level of summa cum laude. She was a member of the Family Court Mediation Project and the Fordham Student Sponsored Fellowship, Inc., but she really made her mark with the creation of the Legal Education and Advocacy Program (LEAP).
Working with Fordham Law School’s acclaimed Public Interest Resource Center, Lindsay and fellow students Jenny Yun (LAW ‘05) and Lena McMahon, a second-year law student, founded LEAP to offer information about the legal system to young people awaiting delinquency proceedings in Family Court.
During LEAP’s first full year of operation, 20 Fordham students worked with more than 100 young people between the ages of 13 and 16 in the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. The New York State Bar Association presented LEAP with the 2005 President’s Pro Bono award for the organization’s work.
“Fordham Law School’s commitment to excellence in the classroom and dedication to service have given me both an academic and practical foundation so that I can better serve the young people with whom I will work,” said Ernst.