The Skadden Foundation announced the 2015 Class of Skadden Fellows, including six of our own Harvard Law School students who are dedicating the next two years of their professional careers to public interest work. All six students have devoted a significant amount of time to clinical and pro bono work.
Please read about the Fellows and their experiences in the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs below.
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.
“I came to law school wanting to serve immigrant communities, spent my first summer doing asylum work on the US-Mexico border, and then took the Employment Law clinic. The clinic introduced me to a powerful way of thinking about protecting immigrants’ rights, since almost every employment law applies to all workers regardless of their immigration status. My placement gave me the opportunity to work with clients across the Boston area affected by a set of workplace problems, including discrimination, wage theft, and sexual harassment. The clinic brought into focus how advocates could use these shared problems to mobilize entire communities to address these issues collectively, which can be a powerful tool for reform. Inspired by this experience, I designed my fellowship project to focus on both individual and collective solutions for the workplace problems of immigrant workers in the Bay Area.”
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.
“My experience working at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau has had a profound impact on my legal education and my career path. During my two years at the Bureau, I represented low-income tenants in housing court and defended former homeowners against eviction after foreclosure. With my clients, I saw the extent of the affordable housing crisis we have in this country and the fundamental importance of stable, safe housing in people’s lives. These experiences inspired my Skadden project where I will work with community organizations and the Cook County Land Bank in Chicago to revitalize neighborhoods hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis and to create much needed affordable housing from properties that are currently sitting vacant after foreclosure.”
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.
“For me, the clinical and pro bono programs at HLS have been a welcome and much-needed supplement to the more theoretical grounding in most law school classes. The Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project provided my first ever one-on-one client interaction and introduced me to the practice of direct client advocacy. I have been able to develop my advocacy skills further through the Post-Foreclosure Eviction Defense Clinic and Project No One Leaves, where I have seen people at every stage of the foreclosure and/or eviction process who have been able to stay in their homes far beyond what was expected because of a robust web of community and legal support. These experiences have been an indispensable part of my legal education, and they will continue to inform much of the work that I will do next year as a Skadden Fellow.”
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.
“I came to law school wanting to represent low-income immigrants in the challenging grid of immigration applications and proceedings. The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic was a perfect fit, and my experience assisting clients with asylum cases there encouraged me to explore other areas of legal aid. Representing low-wage immigrant workers in the Housing Clinic, Employment Clinic, and my independent clinical project at the Equal Justice Center in Austin, Texas exposed me to the other roadblocks and hurdles that immigrants face in obtaining justice in this country. I decided to apply for public interest fellowships in the workers’ rights field because I now know, from experience and my clients’ struggles, that there is room for great progress in this area.”