The Skadden Fellowship Program, described as "a legal Peace Corps" by The Los Angeles Times, was established in 1988 to commemorate the firm's 40th anniversary, in recognition of the dire need for greater funding for graduating law students who wish to devote their professional lives to providing legal services to the poor (including the working poor), the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights. The aim of the program is to give Fellows the freedom to pursue public interest work; thus, the Fellows create their own projects at public interest organizations with at least two lawyers on staff before they apply.
Fellowships are awarded for two years. Skadden provides each Fellow with a salary and pays all fringe benefits to which an employee of the sponsoring organization would be entitled. For those Fellows not covered by a law school low-income protection plan, the firm will pay a Fellow's law school debt service for the tuition part of the loan for the duration of the Fellowship. The 2017 class of Fellows brings to 791 the number of academically outstanding law school graduates and judicial clerks the foundation has funded to work full-time for legal and advocacy organizations.
In its 2010 "US Innovative Lawyers" report, the Financial Times ranked our firm in the top tier in the Responsible Business category in connection with the Fellowship Program, highlighting that it "ensures some of the brightest legal talent goes into public life."
We wish to note that the Fellowship Program is not a substitute for Skadden's considerable pro bono efforts. As a charter signatory of the American Bar Association's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, Skadden pledges to commit time equivalent to at least 3 percent of the firm's annual billable hours to work on pro bono matters. Our attorneys are engaged in a range of pro bono and community activities. The foundation and Fellowship Program were created to complement these efforts, as we believe there is no substitute for full-time public interest work.
It is the firm's hope that, through their efforts and their example, Skadden Fellows will increase and improve the legal services available to the less fortunate in our society. Indeed, there is the expectation that the members of this cadre of new public interest lawyers will, individually and collectively over the course of their careers, have a profound effect on the quality and delivery of legal services. Since the inception of the program, almost 90 percent of the Fellows have remained in public interest or public sector work.
Our commitment does not stop when Fellowship funding ends — the Fellowship is just the beginning. We have undertaken a series of regional reunion symposia for former Fellows and extend to all Fellows a monthly newsletter and webinars.
In 2011, in an effort to continue to support the work of the Skadden Fellows, we established the Flom Incubator Grants, the first legal fund-within-a-fund to specifically solicit ideas from previous grantees. The mission of this innovative program is to award incubator grants of $10,000, to support novel projects undertaken by former Skadden Fellows. These grants were made possible by a generous testamentary bequest of Mr. Flom, as well as significant donations in Mr. Flom's memory by Skadden partners and others in the community.
- Launch of Skadden Fellowship Foundation to mark firm's 40th anniversary
- Dubbed "legal Peace Corps" by the Los Angeles Times
- Foundation funds 100th Fellow
- Advisory Committee commemorates Foundation's 10th anniversary with a 26th Fellowship — the first of 52 "extra" Fellowships over the next 15 years
- Foundation funds record 36 Fellowships, including five by Joe Flom in honor of his late wife, Claire
- Foundation funds 500th Fellow
- Introduction of the Flom Incubator Grant, the first "fund within a fund" to solicit applications from prior Fellows
- First regional reunion symposia for former Fellows
- Skadden Fellowship Foundation and Susan Butler Plum awarded an "Impact Award" from New York Law Journal
- Skadden increases number of Fellowships awarded to 28