About Our Fellowships

The Fellowship Program is designed to honor the individuals for which the Fellowships are named. These Fellowships will allow eligible law school students and law school graduates the opportunity to train in all aspects of criminal defense while studying for their Bar Examination. The Program is intended to facilitate both study and experiential learning while providing the opportunity for the candidates to sustain themselves during that period. 

Fellowship Namesakes

Lloyd E. Powell was the Chief Defender of Washtenaw County for over 35 years (1980-2018). He was dedicated to public service, having begun his career the US Army where he achieved the rank of Major. He received many awards over the course of his service. His chief vision was that of diversity and inclusion. He transformed the Washtenaw County Public Defender's Office into the most diversified office in the county, actively promoting women and minorities into positions of leadership.  

Christopher C. Renna (1979-2020) was not only the Chief Public Defender of Berrien County and the incoming Chief Public Defender of Kalamazoo County, but he was also a former intern and Assistant Public Defender with Washtenaw County Public Defender's Office. His enthusiasm and love for the law were both infectious and inspiring. He believed in going the extra mile to make sure that his clients got the best possible defense. He also believed in identifying and hiring young attorneys with the same enthusiasm and love for the law that he enjoyed.  

Sheila Blakney concluded her tenure at the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s office retiring after more than 30 years of dedicated service. Notably, she held the position of Senior Assistant Public Defender. A trailblazer for women, Sheila broke ground in the 1980s as one of the few female practitioners of criminal indigent defense in Washtenaw County. Throughout her career, she passionately advocated for women's rights and African Americans within the criminal legal system. Beyond her legal practice, Sheila played a pivotal role in mentoring and nurturing young attorneys over the years. Notably, she was instrumental in laying the foundation for criminal law indigent defense practice, collaborating closely with Chief Public Defender Lloyd E. Powell.

Fellowship Requirements & Overview

  • Qualified to practice under Michigan Court Rule 8.120 for the term of the Fellowship.
  • The fellowship has a duration of 1-year with an option to extend for an additional year.
  • During the 1-year term, you will have two consecutive Michigan Bar Examination attempts.
  • If your fellowship is extended for an additional year, you will have an additional two consecutive Michigan Bar Examination attempts.
  • During this period, fellows will engage in full-time work, compensated at a rate of $25 per hour, with medical benefits.
  • The scope of work experience encompasses a range of legal activities, including misdemeanor, juvenile, arraignment, and felony case involvement.
  • To maintain fellowship status, the Fellow must undertake both attempts at the Michigan State Bar examination. 

How to Apply

If interested, please submit your resume to Darren Davis at [email protected]