Sanford Heisler, FAIR, and The Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center Launch a New Public Interest Diversity Fellowship

Posted October 7th, 2013.

Goal to Increase Diversity in California Plaintiffs’ Civil Rights & Employment Bar

For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, 646-791-4848, [email protected]

(October 7, 2013, San Francisco, CA) – Sanford Heisler LLP, a leading national public interest law firm, today 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.  The Fellowship will encourage a more inclusive plaintiffs’ Bar that will better serve the needs of California’s diverse workforce,” said Janette Wipper, Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler’s San Francisco office.  “It is an honor to join FAIR and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center to create this much-needed opportunity.”

Beginning in 2014, Sanford Heisler will provide salary and benefits to a recent law school graduate from an under-represented community who will work for two consecutive six-month terms at the LAS-ELC and a law practice affiliated with the California Employment lawyers Association (CELA), an organization of more than 1,000 workers’ rights advocates around California. “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 FAIR Board Member.

The roll-out of the Fellowship was also announced by Bryan Schwartz, of Bryan Schwartz Law, the President of FAIR, as well as Sanford Heisler, to several hundred attendees at CELA’s 26th Annual Conference on Saturday, October 5th in San Jose. “Our plaintiffs’ employment law Bar is all about promoting diverse workplaces in California, 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 put our money where our mouths are every day. 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 the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. “The Fellowship will strengthen our ability to provide critical legal services to low-wage workers while helping us fulfill our mission of mentoring and training the next generation of attorneys in this vital area of legal practice.”

For more information about the 2014 Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellowship selection process, contact [email protected].

LAS-ELC, founded in 1916, protects the rights and economic self-sufficiency of working poor people by providing a wide range of free legal services and by engaging in policy advocacy, public education, and technical assistance on behalf of low-income workers and their communities.  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, or disability.

FAIR is a California non-profit created by CELA 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 law firm with offices in Washington, DC, New York, and San Francisco that specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam, and consumer class action litigation. The firm has represented thousands of individuals in major class action cases in the United States. Sanford Heisler also represents individual clients in employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower, public accommodations, commercial, medical malpractice, and personal injury matters. In May 2010, the firm won the largest jury award in the U.S. in a gender discrimination employment class action when a jury returned a verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.  In 2012, the firm won court approval to settle a wage and hour case on behalf of sales representatives employed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $99 million.  For more information, contact Sanford Heisler at 646-791-4848.