Loyola Alum Lays Foundation for Career in LGBTQ Advocacy
Alumna Mieko Failey ’13 has long been passionate about helping those dealing with domestic violence. Equipped with the legal skills she developed at Loyola Law School, she has been able to take her support to new levels.
“I was excited by the breadth of the casework and clinics and dedicated faculty available to students,” she says. “Loyola fosters lawyers who give back to the community.”
Now supervising attorney and manager of the Domestic Violence Legal Advocacy Project at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Failey is doing just that. She is one of the few attorneys nationally who have expertise in LGBTQ domestic violence and spends her days providing technical assistance and training to others in the field, working on systemic change and providing legal services to survivors.
Failey was first able to join the Los Angeles LGBT Center as a staffer thanks to a Post Graduate Fellowship in Public Interest Law, one of three grants awarded annually to help fund the salaries of graduates working in public interest positions. Her fellowship project sought to fill a gap in services for LGBTQ young people, many of whom experience violence in multiple situations, such as in the family, in school, within the community or in intimate-partner relationships.
“It was really wonderful to help meet this need that I had seen come up so many times in law school and be able to provide trauma-informed, holistic services to LGBTQ youth,” she said. She was later promoted to supervising attorney.
Failey first became involved with the Los Angeles center through a Loyola internship during the summer after her first year of law school, helping to provide legal services to LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence. “I was amazed,” says Failey, who identifies as queer. “It was exactly what I wanted to do.”
The following summer, Failey interned at the ACLU of Southern California under Deputy Executive Director James Gilliam, an adjunct professor who teaches Fundamentals of Public Interest Lawyering and Law & Sexuality at Loyola.
As a member of the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic (JIFS), which works on reducing the sentences of clients serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed as teenagers, Failey received practical training that aligned with her goals. “I use what I learned in the clinic every day in my practice,” she says. “It was one of the things that really helped to prepare me the most.”
Professor Christopher Hawthorne ’00, director of JIFS, also significantly influenced her career. “I often turn to him for guidance and support – even today,” Failey says.
Through it all, Failey has been keenly aware of all those at Loyola and beyond who have been in her corner.
“Having the experience that I did at Loyola helped to lay a foundation for me,” Failey says. “So many people there really went above and beyond to help me achieve my dreams.”
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