Sheerine Alemzadeh L’11 is a second-year Skadden Fellow at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE). Sheerine grew up in Virginia, outside of DC, and attended Georgetown University, where she majored in International Politics, with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. After college, she worked for the legal department of the Tahirih Justice Center, an organization that provided legal representation and strategic policy advocacy for immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence.
Building a bridge to connect the women’s rights, workers’ rights, and anti-violence movements.
At CAASE, I provide legal representation to survivors of sexual assault with a specific focus on achieving workplace justice for survivors. I also have been building a Chicago-wide coalition of rape crisis advocates and labor organizers to address the issue of sexual violence and gender inequality at work. My long-term career goals are to make a meaningful contribution to bridging the women’s rights, workers’ rights and anti-violence movements, and to help bring fairness and dignity to the processes that survivors of abuse engage in when they attempt to tell their stories and vindicate their rights.
Practice skills honed by clinic work.
The Transnational Legal Clinic was instrumental in shaping the practice skills I use now–in working with Professor Paoletti, and diving headfirst into highly complex areas of immigration law, I learned the struggle of connecting contentious, highly litigated legal theories to the complicated, often messy realities of my clients’ experiences.
Opening doors to the public interest law community.
I found the Toll Public Interest Center to be absolutely critical in becoming a part of the public interest law community. I received incredible professional mentoring, which helped me to understand very complicated application and networking processes for which no clear guidelines exist. Arlene and her staff provided me with everything from interview practice for my fellowship applications to advice on how to approach certain members of Philadelphia’s public interest law community. I realized through TPIC the importance of establishing a community in my legal practice, and cultivating a space where I knew I could come for moral support and thoughtful insights into the next steps in my career.
Lasting friendships forged in law school.
At Penn, I was lucky to be friends with some of the most dedicated and passionate public interest attorneys I know. I still call these friends all the time when I’m looking for inspiration and comfort in knowing I’m part of a larger community of attorneys who see the justice system the same way that I do and want to spend their lives changing it. These friends have been an invaluable source of support for me in my first years of practice, whether it’s getting emergency advice on how to protect a client from getting deported or figuring out how to sustain ourselves long-term in our movement work.
Student engagement’s lasting rewards.
Founding Students Against Gender Based Exploitation with two other classmates (Turhan Sarwar and Amanda Schwartz) was my most rewarding experience in Law School. Through building SAGE, I had amazing opportunities to meet many legal advocates at organizations like Philadelphia Legal Assistance, the Women’s Law Project, and Friends of Farmworkers. Not only did I get to meet them, but I got to collaborate with them to bring law students into the fold to help provide access to justice for low-income survivors of gender-based violence.