Thursday, January 2, 2014

Student From Unranked Law School Lands Prestigious Fellowship

The National Law Journal reported on a Skadden fellow who was chosen from an unranked law school -- a rarity among Skadden fellows.

"Since the creation of the Skadden Fellowship in 1988, more than 700 law students and judicial clerks have received its financial support for two years as they pursue public-interest law projects of their own design.
Of those recipients, nearly 70 percent came from schools listed in the Top 10 by U.S. News & World Report; most of the remainder held J.D.s from schools listed in the Top 100."

But Sarah Hess broke the mold when she became the "first student from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago to win the prestigious fellowship. In fact, 2010 was the last time a student from any unranked law school (in that case the Widener University School of Law) made the cut."

"The year’s 28 Skadden fellows hail from 13 law schools—seven of them from Yale Law School and six from Harvard Law School. Each fellow will be paid on par with the salary and benefits of the public-interest organization they join for the next two years."

Hess proposed a plan to "start what is known as a medical-legal partnership through the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The idea is that families living below the poverty line generally have five unmet legal needs at any given time. Hess will offer pro bono advice about any non-criminal or immigration-related legal need, from housing or public benefits problems to domestic violence or access to Medicaid."

This selection should work as a motivator for the majority of law students out there who do not attend Yale or Harvard (although it appears that most of the fellows are chosen from these schools). Hess "sees her selection as a Skadden fellow as proof that dedication and hard work can trump law school pedigree when forging a legal career."

As Hess put it, "[y]ou should never let people tell you something is impossible. You should use the warning as motivation to do a better job."

Good luck to Ms. Hess as she continues.

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