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Former ELAP intern starts new role at International Rescue Committee

By: Elianna Spitzer, ELAP Intern

Savannah Knight, a former Eastside Legal Assistance Program intern, will continue her advocacy as a children’s attorney at the International Rescue Committee this month.

Savannah volunteered at ELAP between graduating from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law and taking the Washington State Bar Examination. She balanced her volunteer work at ELAP with studying for the bar and raising four children.

Even before attending law school, Savannah was passionate about pursuing a career in public interest. She volunteered with World Relief Western Washington, an organization that provides social services to recently resettled refugees and asylees in the Seattle area. Her work there led her to pursue a law degree. “As a parent, I wanted my kids to grow up in a more reasonable, welcoming, and compassionate world. I knew I could do more to help displaced people with a law degree, so I went back to school,” she said.

At ELAP, Savannah worked with clients one-on-one under Washington’s Admission and Practice Rule 9. It grants a limited license to law students and recent law school graduates to practice law under the supervision of a lawyer who has at least three years of active legal experience. Rule 9 gave Savannah an autonomy she wouldn’t have had without passing the bar. She tirelessly advocated for clients facing housing instability and volunteered to take on difficult legal cases. Savannah particularly enjoyed working on cases in which she was able to defend a client’s first amendment rights or negotiate with landlords.

Her work not only helped ELAP clients but ELAP staff as well. When ELAP was short-staffed, Savannah offered to help with client intake, answering calls, and fielding requests for legal aid. She was dependable and dedicated. Her contributions made an impact on clients, ELAP staff, and ELAP’s mission.

For Savannah, the hardest part of working at ELAP was not having all of the answers. “It is hard to turn people away, even when they are looking for services that ELAP doesn’t offer since every person who calls ELAP has real and urgent needs.”

As a children’s attorney at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Savannah will continue to work with those in need of legal aid. IRC has provided social services to refugees since the 1930’s and has expanded into providing legal services in the past few years. “My clients will be children who arrived in the United States without their parents, and I will be representing them in immigration court. I will bring my experiences and training in working with trauma survivors that I received at ELAP to my new job. I learned so much about professionalism and conscientious lawyering from Vivian, Ashley, Patti, and Kristen. I could not ask for a more supportive group to encourage me through my bar study experience. I learned new things every day that I worked at ELAP, and I’m looking forward to new learning experiences and personal and professional growth at IRC.”

ELAP staff thanks Savannah for her help and knows she will have an incredible impact at IRC just as she did at ELAP.

ELAP's Housing Stability Program is currently closed. For assistance, call the King County Tenant Resource Line at 206-580-0762.
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