Press Release

Janelle Dempsey Selected As Inaugural Ropes & Gray Justice Fellow At Lawyers For Civil Rights
Fellowship Created Following Landmark Voting Rights Case

Time to Read: 2 minutes

Attorney Janelle H. Dempsey has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Ropes & Gray Justice Fellowship at Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR), a Boston-based legal non-profit that specializes in civil rights impact litigation. The fellowship is funded by attorneys’ fees awarded in Huot v. City of Lowell, a landmark federal Voting Rights Act case brought pro bono by Ropes & Gray in partnership with LCR.

Ms. Dempsey is a 2017 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Northeastern Law Review. Additionally, Ms. Dempsey was an active member of the Committee Against Institutional Racism and was on the executive board of the Black Law Students Association. As a law student, Dempsey interned for the Honorable Denise J. Casper at the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, and Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP, where her work focused on protecting the rights of children with disabilities. Prior to joining LCR, she was a litigation associate at a boutique firm in Boston. She has volunteered for numerous community organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Children’s Room.

“I am honored to join LCR, and I am incredibly excited about the important impact this fellowship will allow me to make in the community,” said Ms. Dempsey. During her fellowship year, Ms. Dempsey is expected to work on the full range of civil rights issues that LCR tackles, including protecting voting rights, pursuing racial justice, and empowering low-income communities.

“We are delighted to welcome Janelle as the first Ropes & Gray LCR Justice Fellow,” said Jennifer Rikoski, pro bono co-chair and partner at Ropes & Gray. “Our firm has a long tradition of working with LCR to advance civil rights, and this fellowship provides a powerful, additional way to do so,” added Rikoski.

“Given her deep roots in the community and experience representing under-served clients, Janelle is exactly the kind of up-and-coming civil rights attorney that this fellowship is designed to train and cultivate,” said Oren Sellstrom, LCR’s Litigation Director and co-counsel in the Huot case. “We are deeply grateful to Ropes & Gray for making this fellowship possible.”

The Huot case, which generated the attorneys’ fees that fund Ms. Dempsey’s fellowship, challenged an at-large municipal electoral system in Lowell, Massachusetts that diluted the vote of communities of color. The parties reached a favorable resolution to the lawsuit in 2019 with the City of Lowell agreeing to change its system to ensure a fairer and more equitable election process.

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