By Lori Atherton
December 22, 2015
Third-year Michigan Law students Cari Carson, Julie Kornfeld, and Amanda Merkwae, along with 2013 Michigan Law graduate Charlie Gerstein, have been awarded prestigious Skadden Fellowships for 2016.
The Skadden Fellowships, founded in 1988 by the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, are intended to fund 28 new graduates in full-time work for legal and other advocacy organizations, and encourage graduates to build public-service careers based on helping poor, disabled, elderly, and homeless people, and other underserved groups. Skadden Fellowships are awarded for two years, and cover each fellow's salary and fringe benefits—the equivalent of what they would earn with their sponsoring organizations.
Carson has been placed at Legal Aid of North Carolina Advocates for Children's Services in Durham, where she will provide direct representation to court-involved youth in special education matters. Kornfeld will represent human trafficking survivors at the International Refugee Assistance Project in New York, while Merkwae will represent students in suspension and expulsion proceedings at Legal Action of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Gerstein, who is currently serving as a law clerk to the Hon. Pierre N. Leval in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, will join Equal Justice Under Law in Washington, D.C. He will represent individuals in need of expunging minor convictions.
Carson, a dual-degree student in social work, said she is "thankful and humbled" to have been awarded a Skadden Fellowship. "I will have the opportunity to work with Legal Aid of North Carolina to do special education advocacy for court-involved youth in the foster care and/or justice systems," she said. "It is absolutely my dream job, and I am excited to join the family of Skadden Fellows doing advocacy work across the country."
Alyson Robbins, Michigan Law's public interest director, said Skadden Fellowships are particularly competitive, and she is pleased that this year's class includes four recipients from Michigan Law. She noted that four is the highest number of Skadden Fellows the Law School has had at one time in the Fellowship's 25-plus years of existence.
"Fellowships like these give students the opportunity to do the work they came to law school to do immediately after graduation," she said. "All four of these Fellows came to law school with remarkable focus and took every opportunity to become the best advocates they can be for their clients. They'll immediately begin doing incredible work on day one of their law careers, while joining a stellar group of Michigan Law alumni who have previously been honored with Skadden Fellowships."
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