Donor Funds New Archbishop Ireland Fellowship to Expand Work of Community Justice Project

School of Law alumna Tori Kee ’20 J.D. has been hired as the clinical law fellow for the St. Thomas Community Justice Project (CJP). Her position is the newest donor-funded St. Thomas Archbishop Ireland Justice Fellowship.

The CJP, which is one of St. Thomas Law’s 14 legal clinics, seeks to address systemic racism and improve the lives of those living in distressed communities in the Twin Cities. By conducting research and engaging with community members and decision-makers, law student practitioners and staff strive to find public policy solutions to long-standing challenges such as police brutality and racial disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Over the course of this year, Kee will work to strengthen and expand the CJP’s impact. She will focus on identifying ways to raise awareness about the program’s initiatives in order to build community engagement and support legislative action.

Ongoing advocacy projects include minimizing the impact of racial bias in medical interactions, securing housing protection for vulnerable families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and advancing the education rights of children in Minnesota through equitable funding.

"I am most excited to expand the CJP’s external-facing work," Kee said. "The student practitioners are working on very important public policy changes and I am excited to help them engage with legislators, changemakers and the community to get change enacted."

She will also help to incorporate into the CJP the work of the Collaborative Against Police Brutality. The collaborative is a law school working group of students, staff and faculty that was formed in the summer of 2020. The group is led by Professor Carl Warren, who also coordinates the CJP, and has been working on ways to end harmful policing practices and a legislative initiative called Knock First Minnesota aimed at banning no-knock warrants in the state.

Kee’s position is funded through the Archbishop Ireland Justice Fellows program, which places newly-licensed St. Thomas Law graduates in one-year fellowships to work in the justice gap, addressing the most pressing civil legal issues facing America’s most vulnerable individuals.

Instrumental to the success of the Ireland Fellows program has been its innovative funding model, which maximizes the resources of the law school, donors and organizations serving those most in need.

With the support of John and Sue Morrison, the law school was able to launch its pilot program with several legal aid positions more than three years ago. Additional anonymous investors further elevated the program to expand its impact. Kee’s position is supported with a gift from St. Thomas Law Board Chair Sandy Smalley-Fleming and her husband, Terry Fleming ’78, both partners at Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.

“I attended law school because I wanted to help people,” said Kee, who participated in the CJP as a 2L and 3L. “The CJP works closely with our partners to address systemic issues affecting our communities through meaningful policy changes and education. I am thankful for Sandy Smalley-Fleming, Terry Fleming and St. Thomas for recognizing the need to stand up for our most vulnerable neighbors and collaborate with them to fight for change. Their investment in me and this program helps propel CJP even further in training law students to advance social justice through policymaking. Together we will make a difference.”

About the Archbishop Ireland Justice Fellows