Harvard Law students raising own fund to support public interest careers

BY ALISON WELCHER

The following letter appeared in the Harvard Law Record exhorting Harvard Law School students to contribute to a grassroots initiative to fund a graduate of the school interested in public interest work. It is reprinted here in a slightly modified form to inform a general audience about the student effort.

$1 per day for 1 month from each student at the law school would fund a fellow classmate to work in the public interest for a year following graduation.

The Post-Graduate Student Funded Fellowship is the result of students realizing there is much we can do to help one another and others in a time of economic and social distress.

The immediate goal is to support one of our peers, someone whom we have shared classes with, been inspired by, and who is eager to tackle the problems of the world. The effects of the fellowship, however, will surely extend beyond the HLS community. By funding a year of public interest work, we are  confident that we are also funding positive change for the individuals and communities with whom the fellow works.

Even beyond that, we believe that this Fellowship has the power to positively influence the school’s culture, building greater community on campus. This is why it is important that this fellowship be grassroots, led and supported by students.

The economic downturn has made clear that nothing can be taken for granted, including the availability of a job for someone both qualified and deserving. Discussions about post-graduation plans have turned into comparisons of starting dates, deferral periods, and the latest frustrations of trying to crack into the public sector. Some of us find ourselves relatively well positioned; others are still busy networking, mass e-mailing, and polishing up fellowship proposals.

And so this time presents a unique opportunity to step back and think about what
each one of us can do to help our fellow classmates in addition to those less fortunate
outside of the HLS community.

We have worked to make it as easy as possible for students to donate. Everyone is encouraged to visit our website at www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/fellowship, and donate through the online form (by writing in Post-Grad Student Funded Fellowship in the Additional Comments section). As you may have noticed, we are holding weekly bake sales until the end of the school year, and we’d love for you to stop by, chat, get more information, buy a treat and give back. Third year students have the chance to direct their class gift to the fellowship, among the other options. 2Ls will have the opportunity to donate “One Day’s Work” this summer to the fellowship.

This is hopefully just the beginning.

We have selected students with the drive and ideas to lead this initiative next year. Our goal is to make the fellowship a permanent part of the HLS community.

Thank you.

Your Post-Grad Student Funded Fellowship Chairs,

Sheila Lopez, Julie Ruderman, Alison Welcher, and Maura Whelan

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