Skadden Fellowships awarded to five in 2017

Program provides two years of funding for applicant-created projects at public interest organizations

Five Harvard Law School students and recent graduates have been awarded Skadden Fellowships to support their work in public service. The fellowships 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 poor, elderly, homeless and disabled people, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights. The fellowships are awarded for two years to fund projects created by applicants at public interest organizations.

All five fellows participated in clinics like the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the Criminal Justice Institute, and student practice organizations like Harvard Defenders, Harvard Immigration Project, Prison Legal Assistance Project, Tenant Advocacy Project, and Project No One Leaves.

Here are the Harvard Law School 2017 Skadden Fellows and their projects:

Sophie Elsner ’16

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Austin, TX

Direct representation of low-income, predominately Spanish-speaking tenants facing eviction and rent increases. Will work with a newly-formed tenants’ rights organization to enforce existing, yet underutilized tenant protections to create a model for sustainable affordable housing.

Shayna Medley ’17

American Civil Liberties Union, LGBT & HIV Project, New York, NY

Direct services, impact litigation and legal education to ensure safe school environments and access to single-sex spaces for transgender youth in rural, low-income areas with a focus on Southern and Western states where the rights of trans youth are most under attack.

Derecka Purnell ’17

Advancement Project, Washington, DC

Impact litigation to challenge police practices under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourth Amendment, and challenging overbroad criminal laws under the 14th Amendment.

Shakeer Rahman ’15

The Bronx Defenders, Bronx, NY

Direct representation of indigent people in the Bronx who seek to recover damages in small claims court when they are injured by police or other members of government agencies. Will focus on injuries that are individually too small for civil rights lawyers to address, but that can have an outsize impact in the lives of impoverished people.

Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez ’17

Veterans Legal Services, Boston, MA

Direct representation of veterans in the Greater Boston area on access to benefits, housing and family law. Will also create partnerships with re-entry programs and other community organizations.


This post was originally published on the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs website on January 5, 2017.