Since launching in 1988 to commemorate Skadden’s 40th anniversary, the Skadden Foundation has sponsored more than 990 fellows across 44 states. The program funds two-year fellowships to recent law graduates to pursue the practice of public interest law on a full-time basis. Fellows have the opportunity to design their “dream job” and work with legal services veterans who deeply understand their clients’ needs.

Legal Aid Chicago is proud to be the current host of two Skadden Fellows: Eliza Quander in our Children & Families Practice Group; and Matthew Escalante in our  Immigrants & Workers Rights’ Practice Group. In collaboration with Legal Aid Chicago, these fellows identified underserved needs within our community and came up with a project to address these needs through their work. Eliza’s and Matthew’s projects entail unique components that distinguish them from our staff attorneys, allowing them to use their creativity and innovation to approach service from a different angle.

Eliza Quander’s previous work as paralegal with CFPG helped her see the value and critical need for Black and Brown youth to have a progressive lawyer in their corner. “I am learning a lot about what my role as a lawyer is. Beyond the legal outcomes that you obtain, there’s something powerful about representing my client’s expressed interest,” Eliza says. Eliza works with the Education Law team and focuses on representing children who are disengaged from school, including students who have been or are at risk of being permanently dismissed from school (formally or informally). A majority of the students Eliza represents are individuals enrolled in special education and/or who have been disciplined by their school. Eliza is a 2022 graduate of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.

Prior to attending law school, Matthew Escalante taught preschool in Chicago Public Schools for six years and worked as a paralegal for Legal Aid Chicago. In May 2023, Matthew graduated from New York University School of Law and began working with Legal Aid Chicago as a fellow that fall. Matthew works within the Immigration team and focuses on providing holistic legal representation to undocumented youth, who have been victims of trafficking or other abuses. He represents young clients in the areas of immigration, education, and public benefits. Matthew is committed helping his clients achieve a place of safety and stability.

Skadden is one of Legal Aid Chicago’s allies in our fight for Equal Justice. Their commitment to public interest and pro bono work is truly exemplary. “Our pro bono partnership with Skadden has meant critical legal assistance for our clients in complex cases, from which they do not back down. They have achieved amazing results in eviction cases—saving clients homes and preventing the harmful effects of an eviction. They truly go above and beyond and we are so grateful to call them a partner,” said Melissa O. Picciola, Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships.

We have also further strengthened our partnership with Skadden by recently electing Amanda Brown, who is Of Counsel at Skadden, as our first Board member from Skadden. “Our continued collaboration with Skadden exemplifies a shared commitment to justice, amplifying our impact on the lives of our clients in Cook County,” said Kate Shank, Chief Executive Officer / Executive Director of Legal Aid Chicago.

At Legal Aid Chicago, we work together to provide high quality civil legal aid to people living in poverty. Together with our partners, we can dismantle legal barriers that perpetuate poverty and inequality and achieve social change.

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