Six Harvard Law School students and recent graduates have been chosen to receive Skadden Fellowships to support their work in public service.
The fellowships, which provide a salary and benefits, were established in 1988 by the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in recognition of the need for greater funding for graduating law students who want to devote their professional lives to helping the poor, elderly, homeless and disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights. Twenty-eight fellows from 16 different law schools make up this year’s class.
“We have so many talented students hoping to use their legal education to aid underserved communities at a time when there is not enough funding to support those even a fraction of the attorneys needed to serve those communities.” said Alexa Shabecoff, assistant dean for public service in the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising at HLS. “I am so grateful to Skadden for their leadership in helping to close a small part of the gap in providing high quality representation to low income clients by funding these six fantastic students.”
One of this year’s fellows, Ayirini Fonseca-Sabune ’12, was a recipient of the William J. Stuntz Memorial Award for Justice, Human Dignity and Compassion at HLS. The award recognizes a graduating student who has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the principles of justice, human dignity and compassion while at Harvard Law School.
Harvard Law School 2015 Skadden Fellows and their projects
Ayirini Fonseca-Sabune ’12, Urban Justice Center, Community Development Project, New York
Fonseca-Sabune will work to combat harassment of low-income tenants in New York City’s most rapidly gentrifying communities through affirmative litigation and community education.
Scott Hochberg ’15, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Calif.
Hochberg will provide direct representation, community education and policy advocacy for low-wage immigrant workers facing wage theft and retaliation, using a groundbreaking new law aimed at preventing the improper use of employees’ immigration status to silence complaints
Rebecca Livengood ’12, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, Newark, N.J.
Providing direct representation of children in solitary confinement in New Jersey detention facilities who are denied access to an education will be the focus of Livengood’s Skadden fellowship. She will also represent such children upon release in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act hearings to help them re-enroll and readjust to school.
Nora Mahlberg ’15, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, Chicago
Mahlberg will work to build community capacity in Chicago neighborhoods hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis by partnering with community organizations to effectively utilize the Cook County Land Bank and ensure its sustainability by strengthening its legal infrastructure.
Blake Strode ’15, ArchCity Defenders, St. Louis
Direct representation and impact litigation in housing, landlord-tenant and consumer law on behalf of low-income residents in the St. Louis area will be the focus of Strode’s Skadden fellowship. He will work to promote economic and racial justice through advocacy and community education in Ferguson, Mo., and the surrounding areas of north St. Louis County.
Michael Turi ’15, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, New York
Turi will provide direct representation to low-wage immigrant workers seeking to collect damages on unpaid wages and other labor law violations, employing strategies in the pre-judgment phase and ensuring that damages will be paid.
Skadden fellow applicants create their own projects at public interest organizations with at least two lawyers on staff. To date, the firm has funded 733 fellows. Since the inception of the program, almost 90 percent of the fellows have remained in public interest or public sector work. The full list of 2015 fellows is available on the Skadden Fellowships website.