With steadfast support from alumni/alumnae and friends, the School of Law has made important strides toward its goals of providing first-rate legal training to state and society’s future leaders and being the best return on investment in legal education. The more than $61 million in new School of Law investments secured during the university’s Commit to Georgia Campaign, which ended June 30, 2020, are lifting the school to new heights.
This consistent and ongoing financial commitment has shaped every student at the School of Law. A recent note from a 2020 graduate captures what a quality education, authentic connections as well as opportunities to lead and serve can mean to a student:
“There are people in life that give you invaluable gifts through your interactions with them. The gifts they give are opportunities for personal growth and chances to understand who you can be. When I came to law school, the only lawyers I knew were the ones who handled my mother’s criminal case in addition to one other. Now, I have my dream job at a great firm and an expansive legal network that would rival a network of someone who has been in practice for years.”
As this example illustrates, the support that our alumni, alumnae and friends have provided – and continue to provide – to our students has a profound impact on them both now and into the future. Each student comes to Athens with a story and a dream, and the School of Law seeks to set each one on their path.
During the campaign, the school raised nearly $30 million in new scholarship funding. Significantly, this money has helped reduce annual law student borrowing by $6 million since 2013. Last year, 43% of our students did not borrow money for their legal education and more than 75% received some level of financial assistance.
Some new transformational scholarships created during the Commit to Georgia Campaign include:
- Kathelen V. Amos (J.D.’82) and the Daniel P. Amos Family Foundation initiated the First-Start Scholars Program, which provides scholarships and professional development support to first-generation college graduates. This fall, there will be six First-Start Scholars at the law school representing the Amos family and the Loudermilk family – Joey M. (J.D.’78) and Ramona Loudermilk.
- The John N. Goddard Foundation established the Distinguished Law Fellowship program, which today – thanks to the Goddard Foundation and other donors – offers approximately 20 full-tuition scholarships and professional development stipends to the most academically gifted students at the law school. These fellowships are named for the following individuals and foundations: Philip H. Alston, Jr.; James E. “Jim” Butler Jr. (J.D.’77); Robert G. Edge; Kenneth M. Henson (J.D.’47); Law School Association Professor Emeritus John B. Rees Jr.; Jane W. Wilson and Joel O. Wooten Jr. (J.D.’75) as well as the AnBryce Foundation and the Richard B. Russell Foundation. Russell was a 1918 graduate of the law school.
- Jim Butler funded the Butler Commitment, which guarantees financial aid to every veteran who matriculates to the law school. In addition, his endowed public interest oriented scholarship grew to the level of a Distinguished Law Fellowship.
- Brian P. (J.D.’87) and Kim McLemore Cain endowed two full scholarships for students who have overcome significant hardships while on their journey to law school.
- The law firm Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers provided the key gift enabling the Be Kind Fund Scholarship to meet its endowment threshold. This fund is named for the late Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Harris Hines.
- More than 40 former judicial clerks of the late U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch established a scholarship in the trailblazing jurist’s memory.
- A significant estate gift from the late Georgia Gov. Carl E. Sanders (J.D.’48) created a scholarship fund to support law students.
- A diverse array of supporters contributed to the Stonewall Equality Scholarship Fund, which supports LGBTQ diversity.
Key campaign gifts supporting experiential learning and clinical programs include:
- Jim Butler provided the lead gift creating the Veterans Legal Clinic, which provides veterans with legal assistance they may not otherwise have access to or be able to afford.
- Marlan B. Wilbanks (J.D.’86) established the Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic – the first of its kind in the nation – that provides free, trauma-informed legal services to survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
- An anonymous donor contributed $1 million to benefit the school’s Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic aiding survivors of domestic abuse.