The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program, developed by the Legal Defense Fund, aims to eliminate financial barriers for law students who seek to devote their careers to civil rights and racial justice advocacy by fully covering the cost of law school and attendant expenses. LDF created the program to educate a new generation of civil rights lawyers and enable them to pursue careers as civil rights advocates in the South, unencumbered by student debt.
“It’s been a pleasure and an honor to welcome Marshall-Motley Scholars from the first two cohorts of this exciting program to Vanderbilt Law School,” said Assistant Dean and Martha Craig Daughtrey Director for Public Interest Spring Miller.
Marshall-Motley Scholars attending Vanderbilt Law School include Ashley Fox, Class of 2024, of the first cohort, and Adom Abatkun and Sophia Howard, Class of 2025, of the second cohort:
The first cohort of 10 Marshall-Motley Scholars entered law schools throughout the U.S. in fall 2021 and the second in fall 2022. Students selected for the program choose where to attend law school and commit to practicing in one of 13 Southern states. Scholars participate in an annual retreat each summer.
“The Legal Defense Fund has responded to the need for well-trained, dedicated civil rights advocates with a prestigious scholarship program that will prepare 50 outstanding attorneys to become effective civil rights lawyers and leaders in the fight for equity and justice across the South,” said Jino P. Ray, director of the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program. “The program also provides professional development experiences and resources to equip our scholars to become impactful civil rights lawyers and leaders in the fight for equity and justice for Black communities across the South.”
“I am grateful to the Legal Defense Fund for investing in educating and mentoring future civil rights litigators through this important scholarship program, and I’m very proud that Marshall-Motley Scholars Ashley Fox, Adom Abatkun and Sophia Howard chose to receive their legal education at Vanderbilt,” said Dean Chris Guthrie.
In addition to covering tuition and living expenses, the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program facilitates summer internships with civil rights organizations and access to special training sessions during law school sponsored by LDF. The program then supports scholars as they launch their careers in public advocacy with two-year post-graduate fellowships with civil rights organizations. The program will fund three additional cohorts of 10 scholars who will graduate in 2026, 2027 and 2028.