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Student from Chicago’s John Marshall Law School Wins Prestigious Skadden Fellowship
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Since 1988 more than 700 law students have received financial support from the Skadden Foundation as they continue public-interest law projects of their own design. Most awardees were from top ten schools according to U.S. News & World Report and other students were picked from schools that were in the top 100. Sometimes the Skadden Fellowship Foundation decides to pick someone from an un-ranked school. This year, the foundation has done so, selecting Sarah Hess, a student from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Sarah is the first ever to win the fellowship at the school. The last time an un-ranked school made the cut was 2010.

Her December 6th announcement came as a surprise. “I thought about it all the time,” Hess said. “But I made a very conscious decision when I chose Marshall. I knew that was going to be a factor in my pursuit of a career, but John Marshall chose me. They offered me a full scholarship based on my application, which emphasized public interest.” She also liked its emphasis on diversity and opportunity. When Hess starts, she’ll be part of a medical-legal partnership through the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She will also be working with the Erie Family Health Center, a network of 13 health care sites that serve largely low-income clients.

  
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“The idea is that families living below the poverty line generally have five unmet legal needs at any given time,” Hess said. “It’s basically a guarantee that any family living below the poverty line has at least one civil legal need.”

She will be offering pro bono advice on any non-criminal or immigration-related needs, housing, public benefits problems, domestic violence or access to medicaid.

“Put a child in the best classroom with the best teacher, but if they don’t know where they’re are going to sleep that night, they’re not going to learn effectively.”

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Hess knows how difficult the work will be, but she’s no stranger to hard work. She was a professional ballet dancer and instructor for many years before starting law school. “If I chose to, I could have been discouraged,” she said.

“But what it did was made me really refine my project and made me go as far down every path of research I was pursuing. I used it as a motivator. I think the moral is a simple one: You should never let people tell you something is impossible. You should use the warning as motivation to do a better job.”



Image Credit: Law.com



 

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