Fellowship allows new grad to help unemployed workers

June 29, 2016

Lillian KaideLillian Kaide learned two important things when she represented a struggling mother who had been denied unemployment benefits. One: Legal work is incredibly rewarding. Two: Legal work is unpredictable.

"My client had a sympathetic story. She really needed benefits to support her family," Kaide said. "I did my utmost to help her. I really did my research, and dug in to every aspect of her case. We won, but it was under a different argument than what I expected. This work's always going to surprise you."

Kaide, a 2016 graduate of Seattle University School of Law, was recently awarded the Frances Perkins Fellowship at the Unemployment Law Project (ULP). It's a perfect fit for Kaide, who completed an externship at ULP and knows firsthand how meaningful and rewarding the work can be.

The fellowship, now in its second year, is a unique partnership between the law school's Access to Justice Institute and ULP, a statewide, not-for-profit law firm established to assist and represent unemployed workers.

Named for the former United States Secretary of Labor and the first female cabinet member, who helped establish unemployment insurance and the Social Security and Fair Labor Standards Acts, the fellowship expands the firm's capacity to help people who lose their jobs, allowing workers to maintain stability while they search for new employment.

Kaide will work with ULP for nine months, starting this September, to provide direct representation, advice, legal education, and community outreach to those who have been denied unemployment benefits or whose award of benefits is being challenged.

A philosophy major who also received her undergraduate degree from Seattle University, Kaide said she was initially drawn to criminal law but found tremendous satisfaction in the one-on-one client work of employment law.

"Jobs are like windows for people to provide for themselves and their families, to find out what success means to them and to pursue it," she said. "That loss can be devastating, so it's rewarding to be able to give them the boost they need during a difficult time."

Many of the ULP's clients would not be able to afford legal assistance without the firm's help.

The fellowship will provide a salary, health and professional insurance, paid vacation and sick leave, and professional development opportunities.