In memory of Supriya Bhat ’04, alumni and friends established the Supriya Bhat Public Defender Summer Grant. Since summer 2015, this grant has provided financial assistance for a Santa Clara Law student working in a public defender office. Ms. Bhat’s tireless advocacy as a public defender demonstrated her commitment to marginalized, subordinated, and underserved clients and communities. It is intended that the selected student will promote the public interest values that characterized the work and career of Ms. Bhat.


Santa Clara law students who have completed at least one year of full-time or part-time study by the start of the summer fellowship are eligible for grants. Applicants must arrange a full-time summer law position with a public defender office. Students who receive academic credit for a summer job are not eligible to receive a grant.

Selection Process and Criteria

Applicants must submit their completed applications through the on-line application form. Grantees will be honored at the Public Interest and Social Justice Law Celebration and Graduation Ceremony in May. Grantees are required to submit a brief report at the conclusion of their work.

Selection will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Strong interest in a career in criminal defense. The student need not demonstrate that he or she ultimately will pursue a career as a criminal defense attorney but should provide evidence that he or she is giving serious consideration to such work.
  2. Developing ability and strength in working with legal problems and materials. This criterion may be met in part by indications of successful academic performance in law school courses, but it also may be demonstrated through other types of successful involvement in legal projects.
  3. Additional consideration will be given to students with demonstrated financial need.

Applications must include the following attachments:

  1. A letter from the relevant public defender office confirming a summer job offer for at least 40 hours per week for at least ten weeks. (This letter need not be included with the initial application, but must be provided before the grant money is distributed.)
  2. A resume.
  3. A personal statement explaining (1) the work or project for which the student proposes to use this fellowship; (2) how the work will develop the student’s legal skills, (3) how the work will further the student’s professional interests and goals, and (4) the student’s commitment to criminal defense law.
  4. Any available documentation of the student’s ability and strength in working with legal problems and materials.
  5. Optional: A Statement of financial need.

2017 Supriya Bhat Grant Recipient
Maya Younes, Alameda County Public Defender

2016 Supriya Bhat Grant Recipient
Zina Zaia, Contra Costa County Public Defender

2015 Supriya Bhat Grant Recipient
Keri Gross, Ventura Public Defender Office