Stephanie Biedermann

Position: Legal Officer, PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law
Past Fellows

2007-2008 Liman Fellow, 2008-2009 DRA Fellow

What drew you to DRA? During law school I worked on asylum cases at Yale’s legal services clinic, and I dreamed of continuing to work on human rights issues after law school. I also grew up with two family members with disabilities, so I was aware of some of the difficulties people with disabilities face. When I found out about DRA, it all clicked into place. I flew home to the Bay Area for fall break my last year of law school and spent the week talking to people at DRA and putting together a fellowship proposal.

What was your focus at DRA? I worked on DRA’s emergency preparedness project to ensure that several California cities had plans in place to address the needs of residents with disabilities in all stages of a disaster. I also enjoyed working on a case fighting for safe, barrier-free sidewalks throughout California. I wrote affidavits for potential class members about the road barriers they dealt with in California, which was an important experience at the start of my fellowship. It helped me to connect the cases that DRA was doing with individuals’ personal stories and struggles.

How did your fellowship affect what you went on to do? In 2009, I moved to Egypt to become Legal Director of an NGO providing assistance to refugees who had faced life-threatening persecution in their home countries. I then moved to the UAE to work with the International Renewable Energy Agency, an inter-governmental organization. One of our current projects involves bringing sustainable energy options to refugee camps in Africa. My fellowship at DRA taught me to think creatively about the law and about ways that it can be used to help people by promoting broader social changes.

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