CELA BULLETIN: A New Public Interest Diversity Fellowship is Launched

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CELA BULLETIN: A New Public Interest Diversity Fellowship is Launched

CELA BULLETIN: A New Public Interest Diversity Fellowship is Launched

“A New Public Interest Diversity Fellowship is Launched”
CELA Bulletin, October 2013

On October 7, Sanford Heisler LLP, a leading national public interest law firm, announced the launch of the Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellowship, in partnership with the California- based Foundation for Advocacy Inclusion and Resources (FAIR), and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC), based in San Francisco.

“Sanford Heisler has a strong commitment to diversity and to ensuring that new attorneys from all backgrounds are able to pursue public interest careers,” said Janette Wipper, Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler’s San Francisco office. “The Fellowship will encourage a more inclusive plaintiffs’ Bar that will better serve the needs of California’s diverse workforce. It is an honor to join FAIR and LAS-ELC to create this much needed opportunity.”

Beginning in 2014, Sanford Heisler will provide salary and benefits to a recent law school graduate from an underrepresented community who will work for two consecutive six-month terms at LAS-ELC and a law practice affiliated with CELA. “The Fellowship was designed to make it financially feasible for new attorneys to pursue a public interest career and to develop the specialized litigation skills required to advocate effectively for employee rights,” said Felicia Medina, Senior Litigation Counsel at Sanford Heisler, and a FAIR Board Member.

The roll-out of the Fellowship was announced at our Annual Conference by CELA Executive Board Member and FAIR’s President Bryan Schwartz. “Our plaintiffs’ employment law Bar is all about promoting diverse workplaces in California,” Bryan emphasized, “and with this groundbreaking new Fellowship— because of Sanford Heisler’s generosity and LAS-ELC’s expertise in training new lawyers—we are able to take an important step. I hope that other leading firms in California will follow Sanford Heisler’s example in helping to create opportunities for diverse and empathetic new attorneys, passionate about workers’ rights, to enter our practice area.”

“We thank Sanford Heisler for their generosity and vision in creating this unique Fellowship, and we are proud to partner with FAIR in this important effort,” said Joan Graff, President of LAS-ELC. “The Fellowship will strengthen our ability to provide critical legal services to lowwage workers while helping us fulfill our mission of mentoring and training the next generation of attorneys in this vital area.” For information about the 2014 Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellowship selection process, contact bryan@bryanschwartzlaw.com.

LAS-ELC, founded in 1916, protects the rights and economic self-sufficiency of low-income working people by providing a wide range of free legal services, and by engaging in policy advocacy, public education, and technical assistance. LAS-ELC addresses the full spectrum of employment-related issues for our clients, such as unpaid wages, denial of family and medical leave, denial of disability accommodations, and discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, immigration status, language,gender, sexual orientation, and disability.

FAIR is a California non-profit created by CELA’s leaders in 2010 to increase diversity in the plaintiffs’ employment Bar and to raise public consciousness about workers’ rights.

Sanford Heisler is a national public interest law firm with offices in Washington DC, New York, and San Francisco, specializing in employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam, and consumer class action litigation. The firm has represented thousands of individuals in major class actions, and also represents individual clients in matters related to employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblowing, public accommodations, medical malpractice, and personal injury. In May 2010, the firm won the largest jury award in the country in a gender discrimination class action against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation—$ 253 million in compensatory and punitive damages. In 2012, the firm won court approval for a $99 million settlement in a wage and hour case on behalf of sales representatives employed by Novartis. For more information, contact Sanford Heisler at (202) 742.7777.

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