Bowen student receives prestigious fellowship

UALR William H. Bowen School of Law student Mary Claire Hyatt (’15) has been named a postgraduate Equal Justice Works Fellow for 2015-2017.

Hyatt, one of only 61 fellows selected from a nationwide pool of candidates, is the first Bowen graduate to earn the distinction.
The competitive fellowship, sponsored by Walmart and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, will enable Hyatt to pursue a public interest law project based at Legal Aid of Arkansas’s Medical-Legal Partnership at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

Her mission will be to work with medical staff and social workers to ensure that low-income children and families with special education needs get the services they are entitled to under the law.

She is the first Arkansas graduate to be a fellow at the Medical-Legal Partnership. “I am very honored that I will have this wonderful opportunity,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt’s passion for public interest began as an undergraduate at Hendrix College. She volunteered as a probation officer with Juvenile Services of Faulkner County, where she helped to develop supportive programs for at risk youth.

At Bowen, Hyatt serves as the president of the Public Interest Law Society, where she has helped to grow the membership of the organization and connect students to pro bono service opportunities.

She has served as a research assistant, temporary law clerk with the Arkansas Court of Appeals, and worked with the Arkansas attorney general’s office.

“In a state with so much need, projects such as Medical-Legal Partnership are essential to ensuring that struggling families get access to basic services,” said Michael Hunter Schwartz, dean of the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law.

“Mary Claire’s choice to pursue this kind of work is a wonderful demonstration of how Bowen graduates live our core values of public service, access to justice, and professionalism.”

One of Hyatt’s first tasks when she starts her new fellowship in Fall 2015 will be to develop a screener to help identify patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital who have unmet special education needs.

Patients’ families will be provided a range of advocacy including self-help tools and direct legal representation provided by Hyatt and pro bono legal teams from Walmart and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

“We are excited to have Mary Claire Hyatt join our team at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Her selfless dedication to public service is evident and her project will enhance our holistic service delivery approach and improve educational and health outcomes for patients,” says Lee Richardson, executive director of Legal Aid of Arkansas Inc.

Advocating for the unmet educational and social needs of Arkansas’s most vulnerable children can be a daunting task, but Hyatt is up for the challenge.

“I am beyond excited to begin working with and serving the people of Arkansas,” she said.

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