February 2011 Bar Bulletin
SU Gifts Fund Post-Graduate Fellowship, Korematsu Fellow
By Katherine Hedland Hansen
Public interest lawyers James Degel and Jeanne Berwick have committed their legal careers to social justice. Moved by the Seattle University School of Law’s demonstrated ability to develop social-justice-minded lawyers who will be leaders for a more just and humane world, the couple made strategic gifts to fund a post-graduate fellowship and further develop the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality.
The two-year Seattle University School of Law Justice in Action Fellowship will provide $55,000 per year to a fellow and a qualified social justice legal organization in Washington to cover salary, fringe benefits and most overhead costs associated with funding a full-time fellow. Applicants will be drawn from a pool of December 2010 and May 2011 graduates.
The Justice in Action fellowship is in addition to the law-school funded one-year Leadership for Justice Fellowship. For the 2011-2012 year, the LFJ Fellowship will focus on social justice, host entities based outside of Washington, either in the U.S. or internationally, and will be funded at the same level.
“We were drawn to the idea of funding a post-graduate fellowship because of the way in which such a gift can be leveraged in many ways,” said Degel, a 1980 graduate of the law school, who has devoted his legal career to serving injured and incapacitated children and adults in his role as guardian and trustee of special needs trusts. Berwick’s passion has been advancing the rights of immigrants and refugees, including serving on the board of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project for 18 years.
The gift will help the law school invest in the next generation of social justice lawyer-leaders, increase the capacity of social justice, law-related organizations to serve the poorest and most-disadvantaged populations in our state as these organizations face dramatic funding cuts, said Degel and Berwick. Seattle University School of Law is the only law school in the state to offer a post-graduate fellowship.
“Especially during these times of budget cuts and unemployment, their gift propels the law school forward with ensuring that the needs of the most vulnerable are being met,” said Diana Singleton, director of the Access to Justice Institute, which will oversee the fellowship application process. “This fellowship provides a leadership development opportunity for graduates as they begin their public interest legal careers and helps equal justice organizations advance their work.”
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