News & Events
Biehl Receives Prestigious Skadden Fellowship
2003 grad is one of 25 young lawyers from across the country to receive the fellowship
December 30, 2003
Sarah Biehl, a 2003 graduate of The Ohio State University’s Michael E. Moritz College of Law, has been awarded a 2004 Skadden Fellowship by the New York-based law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Biehl is one of 25 young lawyers from across the country to receive the fellowship, a two-year award presented to law school graduates who seek to work full-time with public interest organizations. She is the first Moritz Law graduate to receive the prestigious award.
Biehl, currently a law clerk to the Honorable James G. Carr of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, said she plans to use her fellowship to start a legal clinic for high school students in an impoverished West Side Chicago neighborhood. Beginning in September 2004, she will work with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (LAFMC) to design and implement a program that will educate and provide legal assistance to students in such areas as domestic and dating violence, immigration law, special education, family law, consumer issues and school discipline.
“I envision the project as a vehicle for educating and empowering high school students to use the law to make substantive changes in their lives,” Biehl said. “Kids usually experience the legal system passively, and very few legal services organizations have the time and personnel to focus specifically on addressing the civil legal needs of children. My idea is that if a lawyer is available to help adolescents in this tough neighborhood address the crises in their lives, many of the kids will have a better shot at succeeding in school and in society.”
Biehl said she first developed the idea for her project during her third year at Moritz Law while taking the Justice for Children Practicum and later while working as an intern at LAFMC, Chicago’s largest provider of civil legal services for the poor. The Justice for Children Practicum is a clinical course open to third-year law students who have been certified as legal interns by the Ohio Supreme Court. As legal interns, students provide direct legal representation to children in a variety of legal proceedings under faculty supervision.
The Practicum is a key component of the law school’s Justice for Children Project. The Project is an interdisciplinary research and law reform initiative committed to ensuring that children and their rights are taken seriously. It serves as a resource for practitioners, judges, and policymakers on legal issues affecting children and has undertaken both direct and indirect representation of children and their interests. It also is actively engaged in promoting a holistic approach to the representation of children by training law students through its new Certificate in Children Studies program.
Katherine Hunt Federle, Professor of Law and Director of the Project, who worked closely with Biehl, said that she is not surprised by Biehl’s success. “Sarah has a deep commitment to children’s legal issues and a passion for justice. I know she will make a difference in the lives of these children.”
Biehl said that she and LAFMC determined that many children who are struggling to succeed in some Chicago neighborhoods have legal needs that go unaddressed, both because legal services are not accessible to them and because very few legal services providers have the resources to focus on the legal issues and needs of children.
Now, thanks to the Skadden Fellowship funds, Biehl said she has a “wonderful opportunity to have control over implementing a unique plan for delivering crucial legal services to a community that otherwise does not have ready access to legal information.”
The Skadden Fellowship Foundation was established in 1988 in support of Skadden Arps’ commitment to public interest law. The foundation, funded by a bequest from the firm, awards 25 fellowships per year to graduating law students and outgoing judicial clerks. Fellows provide legal services to the poor, elderly, homeless and disabled, as well as those deprived of their human rights or civil rights. In recent years, Fellows have also worked on issues concerning economic development and community renewal.
The fellowship provides recipients a $37,500 annual salary, benefits, and loan repayment assistance for two years.
Since 1891, the Moritz College of Law has played a leading role in the legal profession through countless contributions made by alumni and faculty. Graduates of the school reside in all 50 states and 20 other countries and include justices of the Ohio Supreme Court, current and former U.S. Senators and Representatives, managing partners in law firms of all sizes, chief executive officers of Fortune 500 corporations, and attorneys with non-profit organizations and public interest law firms.