Making an Impact
Curtis Pouliot-Alvarez, RWU Class of 2015Juris DoctorAlumni
As a staff attorney with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Curtis Pouliot-Alvarez ’15 orally presents on cases to three-member circuit judge panels, recommending a disposition, answering the judges’ legal and factual questions, and pointing to any alternative resolutions.
It’s just the latest stop for the tireless RWU Law alum, who last summer finished an 18-month stint with the Rhode Island Center for Justice, where he worked as a staff attorney under a post-graduate fellowship program open exclusively to recent Roger Williams Law alumni.
While with the RICJ, Curtis helped bring a class-action lawsuit against National Grid for shutting off the utilities of customers with “medical issues that require them to have electricity and/or heat – for example, those on life-sustaining medical equipment,” Pouliot-Alvarez explains. “Not only do such shutoffs have an immediate health effect on the individual; they affect society as a whole, because when that person ends up in an emergency room and can’t afford treatment, the cost falls on the taxpayers.” And while there are laws against such shutoffs, they remain largely untested because “until now there haven’t been any lawyers taking the cases of the low-income consumers challenging termination,” he says.
Pouliot-Alvarez is a U.S. Army veteran and 17th-generation Rhode Islander, claiming direct descent from Roger Williams. While at RWU Law, he was president of the Association for Public Interest Law, and personally provided more than 1,500 legal service hours to indigent clients. He also served as a student attorney for both the Federal Public Defender of Rhode Island, and the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) Public Defender Unit in Fall River, Mass.