2014 – Verity Sandell

DSC_4291Verity Sandell joined LAF as a staff attorney in 2012 shortly after graduating from law school. She works in LAF’s Children and Families Practice Group’s Education Project, through which she represents children who are in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), in special education and school discipline matters. All of Verity’s clients have experienced significant abuse and neglect, and many have disabilities that make learning difficult.  Verity’s advocacy is critical to ensuring that children with special needs receive appropriate educational supports and that children who are in school discipline proceedings are not excluded from the educational services that are so important to their wellbeing and future.

Verity’s remarkable commitment to education law is founded upon an impressive range of teaching experiences, academic pursuits, legal internships, and a keen awareness of the important role that a proper education plays in shaping the lives of vulnerable youth. After graduating from Pomona College in 2004, she worked at Northwestern University, interviewing participants in the Gautreaux II and Moving to Opportunity housing relocations programs. Through that experience, she came to learn about the participant’s lives and the difficulties they faced both in staying in and leaving their public housing communities. Verity then taught through Teach for America for two years at a school on Chicago’s west side, where nearly all of her students were living well below the poverty line. While she was teaching, she saw a need for educational advocacy for students like her own, and that led her to law school. While at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Verity founded the Education Law and Policy Society, worked on the Children’s Legal Rights Journal, was involved in the Public Interest Law Society, represented children as a student guardian ad litem through the Civitas ChildLaw Clinic, and engaged in special education internships with two legal aid organizations. She graduated magna cum laude with certificates in Child Law and Public Interest Law. Verity also has a Masters in Teaching and has volunteered for multiple tutoring and mentoring programs.

Significantly, Verity’s passion for helping children also extends into her personal life. Working with children in foster care opened her eyes to the need for more foster parents in our community. In 2013, Verity and her husband became foster parents and are now in the process of adopting two boys.

As a result of her extraordinary efforts and accomplishments advocating for low-income children and families, Verity was awarded a CBF Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship in 2014, a financial award that will help meet her law school loan obligations.  ”I am so thankful for the Chicago Bar Foundation and the Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship. The CBF’s commitment to public interest law work makes a huge difference in our community by providing needed financial support to public interest advocates. This award will be so helpful in making it possible to continue to do the work that I love, while also supporting my family.”