DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Student Spotlight > Ezra Lintner College of Law Class of 2020

College of Law grad focuses on homelessness, social justice

Ezra Lintner
Ezra Graham Lintner is a "social justice warrior" who championed for the rights of vulnerable communities during their studies at DePaul College of Law. (Photo by Claire Sloss)
DePaul University’s mission to serve others has always meant something special to Ezra Graham Lintner. During their studies at the College of Law, Lintner has advocated for the legal rights of people experiencing homelessness and increased awareness of social justice issues among classmates. As Lintner and 272 of their classmates graduate from the College of Law this May, the coronavirus pandemic has brought into even sharper focus the purpose of this work.

“What has made me so passionate, above all else, is that I can provide support to communities by both preventing the law from being used against them to their detriment, and also using the law to make things better,” Lintner says.

Linter is moved by the idea that dignity is inherent and believes those who work in the legal profession should acknowledge and uplift the dignity of the people they serve.

Using the law as a force for good

During an 11-month internship at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Lintner was a member of the Law Project and directly represented clients, conducted legal research on current and potential cases, and engaged in community outreach.

“One branch of the coalition’s multi-pronged approach, the Law Project focuses on legal issues that stem out of homelessness, including public benefits, criminal law, civil rights and consumer protection,” Lintner says.

When working with people living in a tent city that was being torn down in Chicago, Lintner was able to help people keep their possessions.

“That felt like a huge accomplishment to say, ‘I’m here, and no you’re not taking this person’s tent. I’m here as part of a team who is willing and able to legally represent them,’” Lintner says. “In the scope of the world, it’s not an impact on a monumental scale, but it can mean everything to that person.”

COVID-19 and the future

The novel coronavirus pandemic had an impact on Lintner’s work during the last few months of their internship at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

“I saw things go from bad to potentially worse for people experiencing homelessness, but Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and others are putting all their effort into supporting those who live in tent cities and massive shelters,” Lintner says.

Working to help people access medical attention and a space to sleep that isn’t with hundreds of others is a top priority for advocates working with populations experiencing homelessness.

“The coalition knows there are tons of empty hotel rooms and houses in the city, so the coalition, amongst others, has been pushing the city to take better care of people experiencing homelessness right now,” Lintner says.

Lintner has been hired as a staff attorney for a civil legal aid organization in the San Francisco Bay Area and will be assisting Bay Area residents with public benefits, tenants’ rights, eviction defense, civil rights, immigration and more.

Extracurriculars with a social justice focus 

While at DePaul, Lintner was a member of the Public Interest Law Association as auction co-chair, raising money for student scholarships, before becoming the co-president.

“Ezra is a social justice warrior and cares deeply about helping build stronger communities and a better world, and they organized the auction to raise funds for their fellow students who wanted to work in critical public interest summer internship,” says Shaye Loughlin, executive director of the Center for Public Interest Law

Lintner’s passion for writing landed them a position as the Article Sections Editor for the DePaul College of Law Journal.

“I was also involved in our National Lawyers Guild," Lintner says. "We held an event, called Disorientation, for first-year law students to debrief about what it means to be in law school after the first few weeks and to help students find an opportunity to root their experiences in social justice."

Working closely with Maria Vertuno, assistant dean in the College of Law, Lintner spearheaded the Preferred Name Project, an initiative ensuring DePaul uses the correct and affirming name when communicating to or about a transgender student.

“For many of our students, their preferred and given name are two very different things. Ezra saw a need to bring a number of administrative and academic units across campus in line with best practices in terms of the student name used in communications,” Vertuno says.

Lintner says a passion for social justice and legal aid work brought them to law school and this interest will continue into a professional career.

“Providing legal education to communities as a tool and resource, intervening whenever there is injustice and serving as someone communities can depend on are things I’m incredibly passionate about,” Lintner says.

DePaul University’s College of Law is located in Chicago’s Loop and is committed to developing legal professionals who understand the bigger picture and their place in it. DePaul Law graduates are connected to an alumni network of more than 16,000 — more than 10,500 of whom live in the Chicago area. For more information, visit