Inaugural Fiza Quraishi Youth Law Fellowship awarded

By Kristy Demas
U-M Law

As Fiza Quraishi’s Michigan Law classmates gather to celebrate their 10-year reunion, the Fellowship created in her memory has its first recipient: Amanda Grill, ’17. Grill will soon be traveling to Oakland, California, to begin her yearlong position as the inaugural Fiza Quraishi Youth Law Fellow at the National Center for Youth and Law (NCYL).

NCYL, in existence for more than 40 years, works to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and youth. Through advocacy, public awareness campaigns, research, policy development, and litigation, the center ensures governmental systems provide the support children and youth need. It is an organization that was near and dear to Fiza Quraishi’s heart. Quraishi, who was married to Adil Haq, ’06, came to NCYL as an Equal Justice Works Fellow after graduating from Michigan Law. She then spent her too-brief career there as a staff attorney.

Known for her passionate advocacy on behalf of disadvantaged children, Quraishi’s untimely passing inspired members of her 2007 graduating class and the NCYL leadership to create the Fellowship. Applicants must be committed to public service and to continuing Quraishi’s life’s work––which in 10 years made a tremendous difference for children, most notably those in the welfare system.

When he first announced the establishment of the fellowship, NCYL Executive Director Jesse Hahnel stressed the importance of Quraishi’s efforts on behalf of children. But he also highlighted her mentoring of those who were interested in advocacy work. “She understood what young attorneys need to grow and thrive. She supported the growth and development of countless law clerks, law fellows, and young attorneys. She is part of all of us. We are committed to continuing her work, vision and spirit.”

Sarah Zearfoss, ’92, senior assistant dean, knew Quraishi well and is proud to say she admitted her to Michigan Law. Zearfoss has been passionate in her efforts to raise funds for the Fellowship. “The world has been prematurely robbed of an amazing lawyer. Through the Fiza Quraishi Youth Law Fellowship, we hope to memorialize a truly remarkable woman, and to help replace a little bit of what we all have lost.”

Grill is both honored and excited to carry on Quraishi’s advocacy. “I came to Michigan ready to get the best public interest education and training for my career. The more I learned how our society’s laws and structural forces shape children’s lives, the more I was motivated to find innovative solutions to affect their future. What is most exciting about this Fellowship is NCYL’s comprehensive mission to both create collaboration between the institutions that serve youth and to hold those systems accountable.”

While at the center, Grill will be investigating different avenues for impact litigation cases, researching strategies, and also working on policy advocacy and legislation reform projects. She hopes that she will come away from her Fellowship with a better grasp of the tools necessary to fight for the just treatment of youth. She also hopes to contribute to litigation and legislation that will help diminish some of the complex challenges children and youth face today, a goal that would likely resonate with her Fellowship’s namesake.

“Although I never had the opportunity to meet her, Fiza’s advocacy has lived on,” said Grill. Her passion and dedication are said to have been fiery, brilliant, and energetic. It is a tremendous honor to serve as a Fellow in her legacy.”