Photo Madison Wiegand Brown

Madison Wiegand Brown

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Chicago
  • Sponsored by Rossotti Family Foundation
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school Washington University in Saint Louis School of Law
  • Issue area Community/Economic Development, Housing - Affordable Housing/Microfinance
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Madison (she/her/hers) represents low-­income individuals exposed to lead in housing, in collaboration with community partners and private attorneys, strategically targeting portfolio landlords to achieve the highest impact.

Illinois has one of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in the country. Lead exposure in housing—the most common type of lead exposure for children—disproportionately burdens communities of color and people living in poverty. Lead exposure in children can cause life­long brain damage that impacts communities for generations. In housing, lead can be abated, and even small reductions in lead exposure can make a difference, preventing future harm.

Madison knew that she wanted to pursue justice for marginalized communities before she knew she wanted to a lawyer. Madison’s work is rooted in the belief that marginalized communities are knowledgeable, capable, and worthy of human rights. She hopes to use her voice and privilege to uplift those without the opportunities she has been given.

Fellowship Plans

Madison will directly represent low-­income families in Chicago who have been exposed to lead due to unsafe housing conditions with community ­informed impactful legal solutions. Madison will target portfolio landlords and landlords with repeat offenses. She will identify these bad actors by collaborating with community organizations in the areas most affected by lead. She will also work with community organizations to identify potential clients and directly represent these organizations. In pursuing these lawsuits, Madison will collaborate with pro bono and private attorneys, seeking holistic outcomes for her clients and creating a toolkit to provide comprehensive, enduring services.

 

I know what it is like to look around the room, as a small child and as an adult, and realize that no one is going to defend you, even if you are right. Tenants living in under resourced communities have the knowledge and strength to evaluate their needs, but an avenue for justice is missing.

Madison Wiegand Brown /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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