Bland becomes first RWU School of Law student to receive Skadden Fellowship

BRISTOL – In partnership with the Rhode Island Center for Justice, Roger Williams University School of Law student Michaela Bland has been awarded a Skadden Fellowship to pursue a full-time career in public-interest law.

A third-year RWU School of Law student from Chili, N.Y., Bland is one of 28 to receive a Skadden Fellowship this year. Her receipt marks the first time an RWU School of Law student has been awarded the prize.

Bland, in a prepared statement, outlined her planned research: “My fellowship project will dismantle discriminatory discipline practices, which have funneled minority students into the school-to-prison pipeline, and it will continue to build Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for children to ‘one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character’ into a reality.”

Her reliance on the Rhode Island Center for Justice will be to help ascertain solutions to the nationally trending “school-to-prison” pipeline, which sees youths end up in their local juvenile detention centers and criminal justice system.

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According to RWU, over the 30 years the Skadden Fellowships have been awarded, the majority have been awarded to Ivy League law school graduates. Since 2008, those with the most Skadden Fellows have been Harvard University (55), Yale University (40), New York University (28), Stanford University (20) and the University of Pennsylvania (15).

The fellowship program was launched in 1988 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of public-interest law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York City. Applicants must submit a public-interest project and secure a sponsoring organization that holds 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and provides civil legal services to the poor, including the working poor, the elderly, the disabled or those deprived of their civil or human rights.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.