Lezak Fellowship Changes Name to Reflect Social Justice Commitment
The Lezak Legacy Fellowship has a new name: The Lezak Social Justice Fellowship. The change underscores the work of the Fellows, explained Lezak Steering Committee Chair David Fauria ’16. “Our Lezak Fellows are on the frontlines as they work to break down barriers to access, address systemic inequalities, safeguard human rights, and protect our environment. Social justice has always been the Fellowship’s core value and now the name embodies that fact.”
The Fellowship is named in honor of one of the longest serving U.S. Attorneys in history, Sid Lezak, who served the District of Oregon for over two decades spanning six presidential administrations. Sid pioneered the use of work study funds to employ law clerks and fostered a culture of mentoring within the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The Fellowship links two of Sid’s great legacies: a firm commitment to social justice and a dedication to mentoring new attorneys.
Since the inaugural cohort nine years ago, the Fellowship has provided summer funding and mentoring to over forty law students; collectively Fellows have contributed more than 15,000 hours to improving the lives of those around them.
Lezak Fellows spend their summers working in public interest law settings that range from public defender offices to immigration nonprofits to civil legal aid organizations. Because many of these organizations are unable to fund summer positions, Fellowship awards allow law students to engage in this critical work and gain public interest law experience regardless of their financial situation. Upon graduation, over 80% of Fellows remain in public interest work.
The Fellowship also provides mentorship to law students by matching them with experienced attorneys, judges, and leaders in Oregon’s legal community. These relationships are particularly impactful for first-generation and underrepresented law students and many former Fellows go on to serve as mentors, which amplifies the impact of the Fellowship on Oregon’s legal community.