Akin Gump Announces 2017 Pro Bono Scholars Class

(Washington, D.C.) — Akin Gump is proud to announce its 2017 class of Pro Bono Scholars. Started in 2008, Akin Gump’s Pro Bono Scholars Program provides top first-year law students the opportunity to develop early and deep experience in public interest law. The skills acquired during this unique two-year program build a foundation for pro bono work and billable practice that will serve participants throughout their careers. Twenty-two former Pro Bono Scholars are now associates at Akin Gump.

“This is our 10th class of Pro Bono Scholars and it’s our largest ever,” said Akin Gump pro bono partner Steve Schulman. “Over the past decade, our Scholars have worked with 32 different public interest organizations across the country and internationally, and I look forward to working with this year’s class to continue the growth and impact of this incredible program.”

Starting May 22, the Pro Bono Scholars will spend the first four weeks of the 2017 program at Akin Gump working on pro bono matters and receiving substantive assignments and training in areas in which the firm focuses its pro bono practice. At the conclusion of the four weeks, the Pro Bono Scholars will spend three days in Washington, D.C. attending a “Pro Bono Scholars Boot Camp,” which provides additional training with the firm’s pro bono partner organizations and orientation to the firm, as well as an opportunity to serve clients at a wills clinic in coordination with Legal Aid of West Virginia. After their time at the firm, the Pro Bono Scholars will spend at least seven weeks at a public interest organization of their choosing.

Akin Gump’s firmwide hiring and professional development partner David Botter said of the program, “We are so proud of the Pro Bono Scholars program because it provides each student with an introduction to practice law at our firm as well as an opportunity to serve our community. I am excited to welcome this year’s impressive class to the program.”

The 11 Pro Bono Scholars and their respective office locations are Audrianne Doucet (Houston), Sophie Fritz (New York), Victoria Fydrych (New York), Madison Gardiner (New York), Simina Grecu (Dallas), Hillary John (Washington, D.C.), Harry Larson (New York), Abbey McNaughton (Washington, D.C.), Imani Phillips (New York), Brett Richter (Los Angeles) and Margo Rusconi (Washington, D.C.).

Ms. Doucet (Columbia Law School) will work in San Antonio with Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas-based nonprofit organization that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost immigration legal services and education to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas.

Ms. Fritz (New York University School of Law) will work with Her Justice, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services in family, divorce and immigration law to low-income women living in New York City.

Ms. Fydrych (Columbia Law School)) will work with Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that seeks to enlist, develop and mobilize the nation's most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.

Ms. Gardiner (Harvard Law School) will work with the Center for Court Innovation, a nonprofit organization that helps the justice system aid victims, reduce crime and improve public trust in justice.

Ms. Grecu (Vanderbilt University Law School) will work with the Human Rights Initiative, which provides free legal representation and social services to victims of human rights abuses and serves as a community resource on international human rights issues.

Ms. John (University of Michigan Law School) will work with the Tahirih Justice Center, a nongovernmental organization that provides pro bono direct legal services and social and medical service referrals to immigrant women and girls who are fleeing from gender-based violence and persecution.

Mr. Larson (Harvard Law School) will work with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in Chicago, IL. MALDEF is a national nonprofit civil rights organization that seeks to protect and promote the civil rights of the more than 27 million Latinos living in the United States.

Ms. McNaughton (Duke University School of Law) will work with the KIPP Foundation in San Francisco, CA. KIPP is a network of public schools that help students from educationally underserved communities develop the knowledge, skills, character and habits needed to succeed in college and the competitive world beyond.

Ms. Phillips (Columbia Law School) will work with Bronx Defenders, a public defender office that provides innovative, holistic and client-centered criminal defense, family defense, civil legal services, social work support and advocacy to indigent people of the Bronx neighborhood in New York City.

Mr. Richter (UCLA School of Law) will work with the Public Counsel, the nation’s largest nonprofit law firm specializing in delivering pro bono legal services.

Ms. Rusconi (Georgetown University Law Center) will work with the Children’s Law Center, a nonprofit corporation that provides free legal services to children, families and foster caregivers in the District of Columbia.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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