Four Harvard Law School students and one recent graduate have been chosen to receive Skadden Fellowships to support their work in public service. This prestigious fellowship was awarded to 29 people this year.
The Harvard Law School recipients are Elizabeth Benton ’11, Stephen Cha-Kim ’11, Dustin Saldarriaga ’11, Emily Werth ’11 and Michael Zabelin ’10.
“The extraordinary vision of the Skadden Fellowship program is matched only by the remarkable people it supports, and I am thrilled that these remarkable students will have the opportunity to serve people in need and that individuals and communities in turn will have the benefit of the energy and vision of these superb young lawyers,” said Dean Martha Minow. “On behalf of this school, I express deep gratitude as the Skadden Fellowships have enabled more than 100 Harvard Law School graduates to pursue their commitment to public service. All of those empowered to serve others through the Skadden Fellowship program, from HLS and elsewhere, lift up the path of law dedicated to assist the most disadvantaged and invite others to find ways to help.”
VIDEO: HLS recipients discuss their pre-fellowship experiences and plans.
Described as a legal Peace Corps by the Los Angeles Times, the Skadden Fellowship program was established by the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in 1988 in recognition of the need for greater funding for graduating law students who wish to devote their professional lives to providing legal services to the poor.
Fellowships are awarded for two years. Skadden provides each fellow with a salary and pays all fringe benefits to which an employee of the sponsoring organization would be entitled. To apply, students must create their own projects at public interest organizations with the help of at least two lawyers.
Since its founding, the Skadden Fellowship program has funded 620 law school graduates and judicial clerks to work full-time for legal and advocacy organizations.
Benton will work at HLS’s WilmerHale Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain, Mass., representing low-income tenants and former homeowners facing post-foreclosure evictions. She will work with community organizations and financial institutions to create long-term affordable housing for families and communities.
Cha-Kim will work at Make the Road New York in Brooklyn, N.Y. He will engage in community outreach, strategic litigation and collaboration with state agencies to combat retaliation against low-wage immigrant workers for reporting wage violations. He will also ensure effective implementation of newly passed employee protection laws, including increased fines and liquidated damages for retaliations to maximize deterrence.
Saldarriaga will work at Community Legal Services and Counseling Center in Cambridge, Mass., representing immigrant LGBT youth who are victims of abuse or neglect, to enforce juveniles’ right to education and freedom from harm. He will also create community education programs and conduct research on courts’ treatment of sexual orientation as a factor in granting protections to abused or neglected youth.
Werth will work at Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago engaging in direct representation, impact litigation, policy advocacy and media outreach to address municipal government actions that displace low-income tenants and threaten the supply of affordable housing throughout Illinois.
Zabelin will work at Rhode Island Legal Services in Providence, R.I., to enforce state and federal measures designed to protect low-income homeowners from foreclosure, using impact litigation, negotiation and community education.
For more information on the Skadden Fellowships, visit the Skadden Fellowship Foundation’s website.