Howard University School of Law receives $10 million grant to support public service careers

Howard University School of Law has been awarded a $10 million grant to support law students who are committed to a career in public service. The grant is courtesy of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, and the program will be named the Greene Public Service Scholars Program.

The program is designed to help increase the number of Black public interest lawyers. The American Bar Association says that only 5 percent of all attorneys in the U.S. are African-American.

“Howard law students train here for the nurturing, cultural experience and because they want to be of service to their community,” said Howard University President Wayne Frederick. “However, expenses can be a barrier to pursuing critical careers in industries like public service. This gift will alleviate the financial burden for our future servant leaders who want to pursue passion over profit.”

The median starting salary in public service is only $48,000, much lower than private sector jobs. The National Association of Law placement states that “attorneys working in civil legal services organizations…have the lowest median entry-level salary, earn the smallest increases in salary based on experience, and have seen the slowest growth in salary levels over the past 14 years.”

Students chosen for the program will receive a three-year full-tuition scholarship. Other features of the program include a full schedule on public interest law, lectures and other programming, and mentoring by well-known public interest lawyers. Summer placements at large local law firms will be awarded, furthering the program recipients’ training. Scholarships will begin going out in the fall of 2021 for students entering the Class of 2024.

The grant is the largest donation in the law school’s history, and will serve an important role in the foundation’s Racial Equity Initiative. The initiative is described as “an investment in the future of American society by providing support to highly qualified Black lawyers committed to public service.”

“This gift, the largest in law school history, goes to the heart of Howard law’s mission to create a generation of new attorneys who are lawyer-leaders deeply committed to public service,” said Danielle Holley-Walker, dean of the law school. “These scholarships will transform the lives and careers of many of our students, students who choose Howard law because of our commitment to racial justice. These scholarships will relieve student debt and allow our law students to pursue their careers in service to their communities.”

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