Featured Alumni

Yan Cao '13 and Geoffrey Wertime '14 are named 2015 Skadden Fellows

Two NYU Law alumni, Yan Cao ’13 and Geoffrey Wertime ’14, have been named 2015 Skadden Fellows. Established in 1988 by the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, the prestigious two-year fellowships support graduating law students who wish to pursue public interest work. The fellowship provides a salary, fringe benefits, and tuition-debt assistance to awardees as they pursue personally conceived projects at their chosen public interest organizations.

Yan Cao '13
Yan Cao '13

Cao will use her fellowship to work at South Brooklyn Legal Services, where she will work on getting debt relief for low-income student loan borrowers. Cao will be focusing on students whose debt come from predatory, for-profit colleges that often target low-income students who are eligible for federal student loans.

“From the schools' perspective, it’s a great business model because they get paid by the federal government through the student loans after the students enroll,” says Cao. “But from the students' perspective its terrible, because they may receive very little training from the school, they’re not prepared to work in the fields where they’re promised employment, and then they have these student loans for the rest of their lives.” 

Cao is particularly interested in the intersection of civil rights and economic justice, and she spent her time as a law student developing her background in this area. She has previously interned at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, as well as at South Brooklyn Legal Services’ Foreclosure Prevention Project. As a 3L in the Racial Justice Program Clinic, Cao also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union on that organization’s first predatory lending case, in which they filed a class-action suit on behalf of African-American homeowners in the Detroit area who were harmed by predatory mortgages. 

Following law school, Cao clerked for Judge J. Paul Oetken of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, and she is currently clerking for Judge Raymond J. Lohier Jr. ’91 of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Geoffrey Wertime '14
Geoffrey Wertime '14

Wertime will spend his fellowship years at Housing Works, an organization that helps homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. Serving in the legal department, Wertime will focus on working with LGBT youth clients, as well as helping all of the organization’s clients with getting benefits from the city and enforcing their rights.

Wertime entered law school knowing that he wanted to work in the area of LGBT rights, and in fact interned with Housing Works during his 1L summer. “It was there that I became interested in the nexus between poverty law and LGBT rights, which is what I’ll be working on as a Skadden Fellow,” he says.

As a law student, Wertime also took both the LGBT Rights Clinic, and during his 2L summer interned with Lamda Legal as a part of a Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship. During his 3L year, Wertime gained experience working with homeless clients as a member of the year-long Civil Rights Clinic. Wertime also focused his student group activities in the area of public interest and LGBT rights, serving as a co-chair of OUTLaw, chair of the National Lawyers Guild, and as a web editor at the Review of Law and Social Change.

“I’m really passionate about helping LGBT homeless youth, and I think that’s an issue that doesn’t get enough attention,” says Wertime. “We’re in a different world, after Windsor and other same-sex marriage cases that have really brought LGBT rights to national attention, and this is one of the next frontiers in LGBT rights.”

Wertime is currently clerking for US Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.