via Above The Law

by David Lat

Text on the window of a building written 'Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP'

Credit: David Lat

The holiday season is an opportune time to think not just about Biglaw bonuses, Christmas parties, and vacations, but also about the less fortunate. It’s a time to be thankful for our blessings, but also to share those blessings with others.

So it’s appropriate that this time every year is when we learn about the latest class of Skadden Fellows. As we’ve explained in the past, these prestigious fellowships, “the public-interest world’s version of Supreme Court clerkships or Rhodes Scholarships,” allow their recipients to pursue public interest work on a full-time basis for two years.

Skadden Arps started the program in 1988 to commemorate its 40th anniversary as a law firm, and in honor of the firm’s 70th anniversary in 2018, it extended the program for another decade. According to Kathleen Rubenstein, who took over as executive director of the Skadden Foundation earlier this year from longtime executive director Susan Butler Plum, this latest crop of 28 new fellows will take the total number of fellows to 877 in just over three decades.

When I spoke with Plum last year about the selection process for fellows and their projects, she told me, “We try to stay away from what’s sexy and what’s hot. We focus on the work. Nobody knows what the clients need better than the applicants, because they’ve worked closely with the agencies in developing their proposed projects.”

That said, there’s no denying that the fellows and their projects will reflect current events to some degree. So it should come as no surprise that several of the new fellows will be focusing their work on immigration and on serving immigrant communities. In a piece about the new Skadden Fellows for Big Law Business, Elizabeth Olson shines the spotlight on two such fellows — Juan Bedoya of NYU Law School and Iva Velickovic of Yale Law School — both the children of immigrants themselves.

Congratulations to Bedoya, Velickovic, and the 26 other deserving recipients and thank you for the work that you already have done — and will do, as Skadden Fellows — in service of the public interest.

Here are three lists. The first shows the schools that have sent the most graduates into Skadden Fellowships for the past 12 years (fellowship classes 2009 to 2020). The top four remain unchanged from last year, but this year, with an impressive showing of three fellows, UCLA bumped Penn Carey Law Penn Law out of fifth place.

The second list shows all law schools that have sent graduates into Skadden Fellowships for the same period. The third shows the 2020 Skadden Fellows and the organizations they’ll be working for.

Again, congratulations to the 28 new Skadden Fellows, their 14 law schools, and their sponsoring organizations.

LAW SCHOOLS WITH THE MOST SKADDEN FELLOWS (2009-2020 FELLOWSHIP CLASSES)

1. Harvard – 59
2. Yale – 46
3. NYU – 32
4. Stanford – 21
5. UCLA – 17

LAW SCHOOLS WITH SKADDEN FELLOWS (2009-2020 FELLOWSHIP CLASSES)

American University – 4
Boston College – 2
Boston University – 1
Chicago – Kent – 1
City University of New York – 8
Columbia – 12
Denver – 1
DePaul – 3
Duke – 4
Fordham – 4
Georgetown – 12
GW – 1
Harvard – 59
Howard – 1
Indiana – 1
John Marshall (Chicago) – 1
Loyola (Los Angeles) – 2
Michigan State – 3
Northeastern – 6
Northwestern – 4
NYU – 32
Roger Williams – 1
Rutgers – 3
Seattle – 1
Stanford – 21
Suffolk – 1
Tulane – 1
University of Arkansas – 1
UC Berkeley/Boalt Hall – 12
UC Davis – 1
UC Irvine – 2
UCLA – 17
U. Chicago – 8
University of Connecticut – 2
University of Illinois – 1
University of Maryland – 3
University of Miami – 1
University of Michigan – 15
U. Penn. – 16
University of Texas – 2
University of Tulsa – 1
UVA – 5
University of Washington – 1
University of Wisconsin – 1
Valparaiso – 1
Vanderbilt – 4
Villanova – 1
Washington & Lee – 2
Wash U. – 3
Wayne State – 1
West Virginia – 1
Widener – 1
William & Mary – 1
William Mitchell – 1
Yale – 46

TOTAL: 341

SKADDEN FOUNDATION — 2020 SKADDEN FELLOWS

Esther Araya
Yale Law School
Kids in Need of Defense
Washington, DC
Will identify, represent, and promote access to support services for unaccompanied children subjected to mistreatment, due process violations, and/or abuse in U.S. custody.

Eric Baudry
Yale Law School
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
Minneapolis, MN
Will provide direct representation through IRS administrative proceedings of misclassified, low-income Minnesota workers, and coalition building to provide both relief from the negative economic consequences of misclassification and also access to the full range of employment benefits and protections.

Juan Bedoya
New York University School of Law
Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project
Boston, MA
Will provide comprehensive civil legal services for pregnant and parenting immigrants. Will support family unity and stability by providing legal support in child-welfare, education, housing, and public benefits.

Jordan Berger
New York University School of Law
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
New York, NY
Will provide direct representation, policy advocacy, impact litigation, and collaboration with local Social Services Districts in New York State, to achieve systemic reform that protects the rights of people with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness in accessing public benefits.

Alexis Christensen
Georgetown University Law Center
Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
Washington, DC
Will establish a new project based at the DC Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) to provide same-day, on-site advice, and extended representation to low-income clients who are challenging denials, terminations, or reductions in safety net benefits.

Maia Cole
New York University School of Law
Brooklyn Defender Services
Brooklyn, NY
Will provide representation to NYCHA residents facing permanent exclusion from public housing, or seeking to lift a permanent exclusion. Also will develop community education materials and bring affirmative litigation challenging NYCHA’s unjust and illegal practices.

D’Laney Gielow
Yale Law School
Legal Aid Chicago
Chicago, IL
Will revitalize the legal requirement that child welfare agencies make “reasonable efforts” to keep families intact.

Elizabeth Gyori
Harvard Law School
Legal Services NYC, Tenants Rights Coalition
New York, NY
Will vindicate the rights of NYCHA tenants, including those facing privatization of their units under the new Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, through direct representation, affirmative litigation, and policy advocacy.

Emma Halas-O’Connor
Northeastern University School of Law
Pine Tree Legal Assistance
Portland, ME
Will ensure that low-income tenants in rural Southern Maine have safe and affordable housing conditions by representing them in affirmative warranty of habitability actions.

John He
University of Michigan Law School
Public Justice Foundation
Oakland, CA
Will combat the imposition and collection of excessive criminal justice fines and fees through legal outreach, impact litigation, and advocacy.

Carly Hite
Stanford Law School
Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo
Buffalo, NY
Will provide direct representation and policy advocacy to reduce the number of Buffalo Public Schools students with disabilities who are suspended. Will advocate for an integrated suspension diversion program.

Ruby Kish
Rutgers University School of Law
Advocates for Children of New Jersey
Newark, NJ
Provide direct legal representation to youth with disabilities involved in New Jersey’s juvenile justice system in matters related to education, allowing them to successfully return to their communities.

Vail Kohnert-Yount
Harvard Law School
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
Brownsville, TX
Will provide comprehensive legal services for low-income workers who have experienced workplace abuse or labor exploitation.

Lauren Koster
Boston College Law School
Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts
Lynn, MA
Will provide individualized, comprehensive legal representation for children in foster care with a special focus on ensuring their educational stability and academic achievement, particularly during times of crisis.

Stephano Medina
University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
Eviction Defense Network
Los Angeles, CA
Will provide direct representation of individuals, community organizations, and coalitions in Los Angeles’ low-income communities of color seeking to fight gentrification and assert their land use rights in the City’s Community Plan Updates, a program which aims to rewrite the local zoning regulations and set the framework for future development in gentrifying communities.

Mariel Mussack
University of Pennsylvania Law School
Justice at Work
Philadelphia, PA
Will address the unique legal needs of workers recruited through temporary labor migration programs, including administrative advocacy, civil litigation, and U & T visas.

Eliana Navarro Gracian
University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
Migrant and Immigrant Community Action (MICA) Project
St. Louis, MO
Will provide holistic legal representation and community-based legal education to support U.S. citizen children living in St. Louis and the surrounding rural areas who are separated from their parents as a result of immigration enforcement.

Jared Odessky
Harvard Law School
Legal Aid at Work
San Francisco, CA
Will provide direct representation and community education to support low-wage LGBTQ workers in Fresno County and Tulare County California facing discrimination, harassment, and other work-related issues.

Emanuel Powell
Harvard Law School
ArchCity Defenders
St. Louis, MO
Will enforce Missouri public records laws, impact litigation, community-driven policy advocacy, and pro se tool creation to support the surviving family members of people killed by the police.

Iva Velickovic
Yale Law School
Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network
Westminster, CO
Will provide direct representation to immigrant children who have suffered abuse, neglect, or abandonment to provide stability and fulfill the promise of recently enacted state legislation.

Kelsey White
University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
Alliance for Children’s Rights
Los Angeles, CA
Will defend the education rights of low-income students of color with disabilities living in foster care, by providing comprehensive direct representation across special education, school discipline, and juvenile court settings.

Vic Wiener
University of Tulsa College of Law
Juvenile Law Center
Philadelphia, PA
Will mobilize communities to end the registration of youth as sex offenders through support and advocacy with individuals and families impacted by youth registration, utilizing a movement lawyering model. Will engage legal service providers to challenge barriers caused by registration.

Jesse Williams
Yale Law School
Legal Aid of North Carolina
Greenville, NC
Will combat land loss in rural North Carolina by directly representing poor, rural landholders — especially those from minority communities and those affected by hurricanes — in consumer debt and property matters; pursuing impact litigation to expand protections for such individuals; and building lasting networks for legal support.

Sam Williamson
University of Maryland School of Law
Homeless Persons Representation Project
Baltimore, MD
Will eliminate barriers to housing, employment, safety, and stability for LGBTQ homeless youth by providing LGBTQ-focused outreach and representation in shelter grievances, discrimination cases, public benefits appeals, criminal record expungements, and petitions to change legal names and gender markers.

Emily Wilson
William & Mary Law School
Equip for Equality
Chicago, IL
Will provide direct representation for transition-age students with disabilities to ensure students receive appropriate transition planning and services that address independent living, education, and employment, in order to improve post-secondary outcomes.

Kath Xu
Yale Law School
American Civil Liberties Union – Women’s Rights Project
New York, NY
Will challenge the use of predictive analytics in the child welfare system through impact litigation, community outreach education, and policy advocacy.

Larisa Zehr
Northeastern University School of Law
Legal Aid Justice Center
Falls Church, VA
Will use individual representation, impact litigation, community education, and policy advocacy to prevent eviction and displacement of low-income Latinx immigrant communities.

Allison Zimmer
New York University School of Law
Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights
New Orleans, LA
Will provide direct representation and policy advocacy to protect the special education rights of New Orleans youth during juvenile incarceration and the transition back into the city’s 100% charter school system.