IIT Chicago-Kent students Benjamin Coate and Julio Costa awarded Peggy Browning Fellowships

Monday, June 18, 2012

Benjamin Coate and Julio Costa, second-year students at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, have been awarded ten-week Peggy Browning Fellowships for the 2012-13 school year.

From left, second-year IIT Chicago-Kent students Benjamin Coate and Julio Costa have been awarded ten-week Peggy Browning Fellowships for the 2012-13 school year.
From left, second-year IIT Chicago-Kent students Benjamin Coate and Julio Costa have been awarded ten-week Peggy Browning Fellowships for the 2012-13 school year.

Peggy Browning fellowships provide law students with diverse, challenging work and educational experiences in the area of workers' rights. The program is designed to increase students' understanding of the current issues workers face and encourage students to consider careers in public interest labor law.

Benjamin Coate, a 2013 candidate for a J.D. with a certificate in labor and employment law, will work with Community Legal Services, Inc., in Philadelphia. Established in 1966 by the Philadelphia Bar Association, Community Legal Services helps low-income residents obtain equal access to justice by providing them with advice and representation in civil legal matters, advocating for their legal rights, and conducting community education about the legal issues that affect them.

Coate is a native of Chanute, Kansas, who graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Truman State University with a double major in Spanish and political science. After graduation, he joined Teach for America and taught fourth-grade students in Rio Grande Valley, Tex.

As an IIT Chicago-Kent student, Coate serves on the School and Education Law Society's executive board and is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Society. He has clerked for the Law Office of Steven Glink in Northbrook, Ill. Coate currently is a clerk for the Hon. Mary Mikva of the Cook Country Circuit Court and for Willenson Law, LLC, in Chicago.

Julio Costa, a 2013 candidate for a J.D. with a certificate in labor and employment law, will spend his fellowship period in Pittsburgh at the United Steelworkers. Formed in 1936, the union represents 1.2 million active and retired members.

Costa, a native of Peru who came to the United States at the age of one, earned his undergraduate degree in Spanish and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to law school, he served as an intern in the office of Congressman Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) and as a legislative fellow and policy analyst for Hispanic Affairs in the office of Senator Robert Menendez (N.J.) He also served as a public policy fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

In the summer of 2008, through the United Steelworkers' Health Care Workers Council, Costa played an integral role in the union's effort to get an entire department of primarily Latino workers in the Los Angeles area rehired. The workers' jobs had been outsourced during a time when the workers were seeking union representation.

As an IIT Chicago-Kent student, Costa serves as president of Phi Alpha Delta, as Student Bar Association class representative, and as the Hispanic Latino Law Student Association representative to the Hispanic National Bar Association. He currently is a judicial extern for the Honorable Michael B. Hyman of the Cook County Circuit Court.  

The Peggy Browning Fellowship program was established in memory of Margaret A. "Peggy" Browning, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the National Labor Relations Board in 1994. Ms. Browning, the first union-side labor attorney appointed to the NLRB, served until her death in 1997.

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, Ph.D.-granting university with more than 7,700 students in engineering, sciences, architecture, psychology, design, humanities, business and law.

The Program in Labor and Employment Law is the centerpiece of IIT Chicago-Kent's Institute for Law and the Workplace. The program comprises a logical, carefully paced sequence of coursework and practical skills training that provide comprehensive, rigorous preparation for the field of labor and employment law.

Created in 1996, the Institute for Law and the Workplace is a national center for research, training, dialogue, and reflection on the law that governs the workplace. The Institute serves as an intellectual home for the labor and employment law community, both in the Chicago area and nationwide. It pools the resources of leading academic scholars and the practicing professional community to train students and professionals, monitor policies and trends, and reflect upon issues confronting the labor and employment law community in a neutral setting.

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