Ten years into his legal career, Shekar Krishnan is still extremely grateful he was named a Darrow Scholar at Michigan Law. "The impact of the Darrow Scholarship on my life cannot be overstated. In addition to enabling me to pursue my career in housing justice, the scholarship was one of the critical factors in my decision to attend Michigan Law, where I've made some of my closest friends and developed lifelong professional relationships."
At Michigan Law, Krishnan was a contributing editor for the Michigan Law Review. He also made a number of friends, feeling fortunate that he attended a school with such "a strong and uniquely tight-knit public interest community." Krishnan keeps in touch with many of his former Michigan Law classmates today even though they're scattered across the country and focused on different areas of advocacy work. But the most important connection Krishnan made at Michigan was with his wife—Zoe Levine. ’09—a public interest lawyer specializing in immigration and reproductive rights. Their two children are, according to him, "little activist babies (and Michigan football/basketball fans) in their own right."
Today, Krishnan is the director of legal advocacy and strategic partnerships at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, also called Brooklyn A. He oversees litigation and advocacy for local tenants and tenant groups who are facing eviction and/or harassment from landlords. The overarching mission of Brooklyn A is to help its clients work collectively to amplify their voices and to protect their homes and civil rights.
It's a charge to action that resonates with Krishnan who, fresh out of law school, litigated the Broadway Triangle case for Brooklyn A. The case had "a formative impact on me both professional and personally." More than 40 community organizations sued the City of New York regarding the proposed rezoning of a large parcel of vacant land—also the most segregated—called the Broadway Triangle. "The Coalition's litigation successfully stopped the rezoning as proposed, and we won a preliminary injunction in 2012. It took another five years to reach a landmark settlement that comprehensively resolved the case." The case brought home to Krishnan the importance of communities banding together to make their voices heard by those in power across all levels of government. "Far more important than laws or litigation, it is the sustained, organized efforts of everyday individuals that creates change to advance racial justice."
Prior to his current role at Brooklyn A, Krishnan was an associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. He clerked for The Hon. Jack B. Weinstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
In his spare time, Krishnan serves as a member of the board of directors of the New York Foundation and as the co-chair of Friends of Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens. His pieces have appeared in City Limits ("Amazon Will Deliver More Displacement to NYC's Working Class"); NY Daily News ("Race Lost for the New East New York" and "Throw the Book at Crooked Landlords"); the Queens Tribune ("The Real Needs of NYC's Plaza's"); and for the CUNY Law Review ("Advocacy for Tenant and Community Empowerment").
"Put simply, the Darrow Scholarship allowed me to pursue the civil rights work that I love, right from the start of my career. I was able to chart my career based on my passion and what was best for my family without feeling encumbered from a financial standpoint. For that I'm extraordinarily grateful to Michigan. It's a debt of gratitude that I will always pay forward, especially as I cross paths with Michigan Law students or graduates along the way. I also know that it's a privilege, which makes me feel a firm sense of responsibility to serve others."
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