Lauren Koster ’19 has been selected to receive a 2020 Skadden Fellowship to pursue a career in public interest work. She is one of only 28 students to receive the award this year and is the fourth BC Law graduate to receive this prestigious honor.
She will begin her fellowship with the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts (CLCM) in August 2020, following the completion of her clerkship with Judge Paul Barbadoro of the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire.
Koster came to BC Law as a Public Service Scholar with a deep passion for advancing education policy. Building on her experience as a public school teacher and political organizer, she expanded her focus to include issues of child welfare, mental health, delinquency, and the rights of incarcerated juveniles. While at BC, Koster served for two years as president of the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF), was a Rappaport Fellow, and completed the LEAPS program where she focused on the development of public service leadership skills within student organizations at the Law School. Koster was a student attorney for two semesters with the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project (JRAP).
At the Children’s Law Center, Koster will advocate for children in foster care to ensure their educational stability and academic achievement. “School instability leads to horrendous outcomes for our children in care—children who are disproportionately low-income or kids of color,” said Koster.
“These students are chronically absent at a rate nearly triple that of the Massachusetts average, four times as likely to receive out of school suspension, and seven times as likely to experience grade retention,” she explained. “By not prioritizing school stability, our students in foster care face poorer education and life outcomes, such as dropping out, higher rates of crime and recidivism, and reduced employment opportunities. I am humbled to have been chosen as a Skadden Fellow and grateful for the opportunity to advocate for a brighter future on behalf of vulnerable students in the Commonwealth.”
“Lauren has been a joy to work with,” said professor Jessica Berry, who supervised Koster in the JRAP Program, taught her in the course Children’s Law and Public Policy, and is now the deputy director at CLCM where Koster will work on the project she developed advocating for educational stability and achievement for youth in foster care in Massachusetts. “She possessed such a clear commitment to the client and to unpacking the thorny legal issues as well as great poise even when confronted with a somewhat hostile opposing party.”
Berry watched Koster grapple with system-wide youth policy issues in class and as a second semester JRAP student, when she developed a checklist designed to prioritize timely permanency (i.e., transitioning to a safe and stable home) for kids in foster care, which ultimately served as the basis for a benchcard distributed to Juvenile Court judges statewide. “These experiences with Lauren as a law student demonstrated to me her real promise as a lawyer,” Berry said. “CLCM feels fortunate to have partnered with her and recognizes the important role the BC Law School community played in cultivating her development as a lawyer.”
Professor Francine Sherman, director of JRAP, shares Berry’s observations. “As a JRAP clinic student, research assistant, and in her student scholarship, Lauren demonstrated her intellect, compassion, and commitment to advancing children’s education rights,” Sherman said. “She coupled her passion for the issue with sharp analysis and creative advocacy. We are so very proud of Lauren and look forward to following her career for a long time to come.”
Launched in 1988, the Skadden Fellowship Foundation program provides young lawyers with the opportunity to pursue the practice of public interest law on a full-time basis. The highly selective application process considers academic accomplishments, meaningful public interest work, and leadership experience.
Koster, a Minnesota native and 2012 graduate of Yale University, joins three earlier BC Law alumni as a Skadden Fellow: Margaretta Homsey Kroeger in 2011, Tara Twomey in 1999, and Christine Griffin in 1993. In addition, Jessica Berry, a visiting professor at BC Law, was a fellow in 2009, and Assistant Professor Daniel Farbman was a fellow in 2008.