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SDNY alums name first 1Ls for Ginsburg-inspired scholarship fund

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks during the lunch session of "The Women's Conference 2010" in Long Beach, California October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

  • Law students at Yale, Stanford, Fordham and Columbia to receive $10,000 and mentorship opportunities
  • Donors include former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Sullivan & Cromwell's Karen Patton Seymour

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(Reuters) - A scholarship program honoring the career of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has named its inaugural class of awardees, choosing four first-year law students to receive a $10,000 stipend and mentoring from a network of former New York federal prosecutors.

The When There Are Nine Scholarship Project was announced in May by a group of 33 women who served together as assistant U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York. Its first awardees are Amanda Gomez Feliz (Yale Law School), Priscilla Guo (Stanford Law School), Cristel Taveras (Fordham University School of Law) and Rose Wehrman (Columbia Law School).

The women were chosen from 384 applicants for their “academic achievement, commitment to serving her community, and for her perseverance in the face of adversity,” according to a press release.

The When There Are Nine program was named for an answer Ginsburg gave when asked when there will be "enough" women serving on the Supreme Court. It aims to provide assistance "that will advance equity and diversity within the legal profession and continue the late Justice's many efforts to expand career opportunities for women attorneys," the group said Monday.

“The four women who were selected this year will have the opportunity to meet each other, participate in activities with alumni of the Southern District of New York, and we hope that they'll create a relationship amongst themselves that will last through law school and beyond law school,” said Jessica Ortiz, chair of the scholarship’s selection committee and deputy inspector general and director of investigations for The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Gomez Feliz immigrated to New York from the Dominican Republic in 2010 and taught herself English before graduating magna cum laude from the University of Rochester. Guo, born and raised in New York, has been a mentor to young women and earned degrees from Harvard College, Oxford University and Tsinghua University. Taveras, the daughter of immigrants, is a social justice advocate who works as a campaign researcher at Color Of Change. Wehrman, a former AmeriCorps volunteer, is the first person in her family enter a graduate degree program.

Founding donors to the program include former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Sullivan & Cromwell partner and former Goldman Sachs general counsel Karen Patton Seymour and other SDNY alums. According to Ortiz, the scholarship’s steering committee will soon be ramping up fundraising in order to potentially increase the number of awardees in the future.

“Perhaps the greatest part of this project is that each scholarship recipient will be provided a team of mentors to give career guidance and create networking opportunities,” Bharara said in a statement. “In this way, my colleagues hope to open doors for the next generation of women lawyers with the help of their close-knit SDNY alumnae community and to give thanks for the doors that Justice Ginsburg opened for them.”

The scholarship was founded in conjunction with the Federal Bar Foundation and Federal Bar Council. Its steering committee includes partners at Morrison & Foerster, Covington & Burling and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Read more:

SDNY alums launch scholarship for women law students

Chinekwu Osakwe covers legal industry news with a focus on midsize law firms. Reach her at Chinekwu.osakwe@thomsonreuters.com.

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