2015 – Shauna R. Prewitt

Shauna PrewittShauna Prewitt, an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, has demonstrated a profound commitment to furthering the ideals of the legal profession through her pro bono service, her local and national advocacy and leadership, and her sincere dedication to ensuring the justice system is fair and accessible for all.

While she already had been hard at work on the issue since 2008 in law school, Shauna shined a spotlight on a major flaw in our custody laws in 2012 when she published an open letter addressing former Congressman Todd Akin’s comment that “legitimate rape rarely leads to pregnancy.” Shauna countered that appalling statement by bravely sharing her personal story and bringing to light the legal obstacles for women like her who decide to raise a child conceived through rape. This powerful letter was picked up by national news outlets including CNN, MSNBC, and the Washington Post.

Shauna’s tireless activism has been instrumental in developing and passing state and federal laws strengthening protections for women with children conceived by rape by addressing the custody rights of their rapists. In just five years, Shauna has drafted and/or helped pass legislation in 14 states, including Illinois, and she is currently working with four more states that are considering similar legislation. On the federal level, Shauna worked with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to draft a bill known as the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, which, thanks to their leadership, was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year as part of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.

Shauna’s amazing advocacy work merits recognition in its own right, yet it is just one part of what makes her a truly exceptional young lawyer. What flies under the radar is all of Shauna’s stellar pro bono work and service to the profession since first becoming a lawyer. Most notably, she already has devoted more than 2,600 hours to direct pro bono service across a broad range of cases in just her first five years of practice.