Public Interest Grads Make a Mark With Skadden Fellowships

With nearly three dozen winners of what is among the most prestigious awards in public interest law, UCLA Law primes students for impact in America’s neediest communities.

UCLA Law ranks among the top five law schools in the country for graduating students who receive Skadden Fellowships, the most prestigious and competitive awards for public interest law students. Since 1988, the law school has sent nearly three dozen recent grads into the field for two-year fellowships in which they have launched their public-interest legal careers by making a profound difference in a wide range of communities.

In 2020, three members of the law school’s David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy – Stephano Medina ’20, Eliana Navarro Gracian ’20 and Kelsey White ’20 – continued the tradition of success and service.

Medina was set to work for the Eviction Defense Network in Los Angeles, pushing for rules that protect the housing rights of low-income communities. Navarro Gracian’s fellowship was at the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action Project in St. Louis, Missouri, helping establish a program that delivers holistic legal representation in underserved rural areas. And White joined the Alliance for Children’s Rights in Los Angeles, representing low-income students who have disabilities and live in foster care in special education, school discipline and juvenile court settings.

UCLA Law uses many tools to create opportunities for students and alumni to do work in the public interest. The student-run El Centro Legal Clinics lead 15 separate initiatives in community legal services; faculty members teaching in the school’s experiential education program supervise students’ impactful advocacy for immigrant families; and UCLA Law’s Office of Public Interest Programs provides financial support for hundreds of students to join nonprofits and government agencies as fellows each summer.