Ruth Cusick, a third-year student at the CUNY School of Law, is the recipient of a Skadden Fellowship, an award that will provide her with funding to undertake a public interest law project after graduation. Ms. Cusick’s project will be at the Mental Health Advocacy Services in Los Angeles. There she will represent and advocate for low-income children with mental health and developmental disabilities who are being unlawfully suspended and expelled from school because of their disabilities.
The Skadden Fellowship, awarded to 30 individuals last year, is a prestigious public interest fellowship whittled from a field of several hundred applicants from across the country. This year’s winners have not yet been formally announced.
The Skadden Fellowship Foundation, described as “a legal Peace Corps” by The Los Angeles Times, was established in 1988 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, in recognition of the dire need for greater funding for graduating law students who wish to devote their professional lives to providing legal services to the poor (including the working poor), the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights.
Skadden Arps, founded in 1948, is the nation’s largest law firm as ranked by billable revenues, according to American Lawyer magazine.
The aim of the foundation is to give Fellows the freedom to pursue public interest work; thus, the Fellows create their own projects at public interest organizations with at least two lawyers on staff before they apply. Each fellow receives $46,000 in salary. Through 2007, 503 students had been awarded Skadden fellowships.