Tobias Rodriguez ’19 named as a 2019 Equal Justice Works Fellow
Tobias Rodriguez, a May 2019 graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law, has been selected as a 2019 Equal Justice Works fellow. During his two-year fellowship period, Rodriguez will work at Cabrini Green Legal Aid in Chicago, providing legal services for incarcerated and recently released fathers who want to establish or reestablish relationships with their minor children. His fellowship is sponsored by the law firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP.
During his fellowship, Rodriguez will help reestablish the parent/child bond by providing pro bono services in family law to former and soon-to-be-former inmates. Additionally, he’ll work to educate fathers about their options for criminal record relief and help recently released prisoners find housing and employment through Cabrini Green Legal Aid’s holistic approach.
'“A judge may be more willing to give a father contact with his children if he is out of prison, has a stable job, and has a stable housing situation,” explains Rodriguez. “Prisons keep parents away from their children. By helping parents reconnect with their kids during and after a prison sentence, my project creates opportunities for families to build stronger and more intimate bonds with one another.”
Attorneys from Greenberg Traurig will help Rodriguez with providing pro bono legal services and advice for incarcerated clients and conducting family law classes in the community and in prisons.
Rodriguez will enter his fellowship with two years of experience managing a team of volunteers. As co-supervising manager at Chicago-Kent’s Self-Help Web Center, located on the sixth floor of the Circuit Court of Cook County at the Daley Center, he worked with a team of students assisting self-represented litigants with navigating the court system and completing court documents.
“Being a co-supervising manager is about a lot more than just the visitor contact,” he says. “It’s also about the organizational skills, trying to make sure that everything flows really well, both at the desk and behind the scenes.”
Born and raised in San Antonio, Rodriguez earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Princeton University and then spent five years in New York, working for various nonprofit organizations and the city’s Mayor’s Office of Digital Strategy. He decided to go to law school to better help marginalized and vulnerable communities.
“I really liked the missions of the organizations that I was at, but I didn’t feel like my role in particular was making any sort of substantial change,” he says.
At Chicago-Kent, Rodriguez earned the Dean’s Distinguished Public Service Award for completing 250-plus hours of volunteer service, and was a student editor of the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal. He served as president of the Chicago-Kent Lambdas and a vice president of the Kent Justice Foundation. Rodriguez completed numerous internships, externships, and clerkships, including at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender and Cabrini Green Legal Aid (both through the law school's Legal Externship Program) and at the United States Department of Labor. He also helped Associate Professor César Rosado Marzán edit his new book Principled Labor Law: U.S. Labor Law through a Latin American Method (Oxford University Press 2019), co-authored with Professor Sergio Gamonal C. of the Adolfo Ibáñez University in Chile.
“It’s really special for me to say that I went to law school wanting to do legal aid and to help vulnerable marginalized communities and that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing,” says Rodriguez. “I really appreciate the support I’ve gotten from Chicago-Kent along the way.”