Squire Patton Boggs Foundation will recognize its largest public policy fellowship class at this year’s annual fellowship breakfast on July 17.
Sixteen law schools and the Collège D’Europe in Bruges, Belgium, participate in the program that includes 23 students this year.
The goal is to promote an interest in public service and pro bono work, and to make it possible for students to fulfill their passions, Squire Patton Boggs Foundation President John Oberdorfer said.
The work they’re doing is “pretty overwhelming and very inspiring,” he said.
Fellows work at government agencies, immigration clinics, and nonprofits to tackle issues like criminal justice, access to justice, and LGBTQ rights.
The increase in participants—there were 18 five years ago—reflects a trend in the legal industry in which firms are doing more pro bono work than they were five or 10 years ago.
This year, in addition to applying for a fellowship at an institution of their choice, students could apply to two new features to the program. Sustained impact fellows can work in Puerto Rico on post-Hurricane Maria recovery issues, while those interested in reporting and the law were able to apply for a fellowship backed by Case Western Reserve University School of Law
at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Mónica Rodríguez, for example, is a sustained impact fellow from Southern Methodist University Law School. She’ll work for Ayuda Legal in Puerto Rico, where she grew up, to help victims of Hurricane Maria.
A lot of the organizations the students work at are nonprofits that couldn’t otherwise afford the help that the fellowships enable the students to provide, Rodney E. Slater, a former U.S. transportation secretary and chairman of the foundation’s board, said.
The foundation hopes that through participating law schools, the work can ultimately be sustained year round. Another future goal for the program is to build it out in Europe, Slater said.
More than half of Squire Patton Boggs’ offices are outside the U.S., he said.
Some participating law schools include Howard, Georgetown, and George Washington University, all in Washington, and the University of Miami, Case Western in Cleveland, and Yale. Slater’s alma mater, the University of Arkansas, also participates.
Squire Patton Boggs Foundation has awarded more than 240 students fellowships since 2004.