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Virginia Trial Lawyers Foundation – Diversity Fellowship Program

Virginia Trial Lawyers Foundation – Diversity Fellowship Program

The Virginia Trial Lawyers Foundation launched a new program in 2022 called the Virginia Trial Lawyers Diversity Fellowship Program. Irvin Cantor and Stephanie Grana, President and Vice President of the VTLF, respectively, along with the rest of the board are excited to institute this inaugural program, which was created to introduce a diverse group of law students to a career in trial practice and to the members of the VTLA.

The Foundation has decided that the first scholarship should be named the A. Donald McEachin Memorial Fellowship, in honor of his fierce advocacy through his life of public service and his particular interest in mentoring young people from diverse backgrounds and heritage.

The fellowship was open to law students who (1) have completed their second year (or equivalent) of law school; (2) exhibit a diversity of traits and attributes in age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic factors or national origin or demonstrate a commitment to fostering such diversity within the legal community; (3) demonstrate a strong interest in and/or commitment to the practice areas of VTLA members (plaintiff’s civil actions, defense of criminal actions, family law, worker’s compensation actions, and civil rights); and (4) demonstrate a commitment to social justice.

The fellowship includes a $5,000 scholarship to the selected student, plus the opportunity to work for a VTLA member law firm for a 10-week period during the summer after their second year. This is a paid opportunity to work with experienced trial lawyers to attend depositions, court hearings, or other proceedings as appropriate, and to get real-life exposure to trial practice.

Although the foundation received a number of excellent candidates, the board selected two amazing students for fellowships. We are pleased to announce this year’s winners: Tunden Oladipo and Kaitlyn Hyun! 

Tunden Oladipo of the University of Richmond School of Law will be working with VTLA member Shep Williams from the Williams Legal Group this summer. Tunden expressed an interest in trial advocacy after participating in her school’s trial competition, which sparked her interest in trials and particularly criminal trials. She has also previously worked at the Federal Public Defenders Office in Richmond.

Kaitlyn Hyun of Washington and Lee School of Law will be working with Scott Perry from the law firm of Breit Biniazan. Last year she was a witness for a mock trial at her school and now she’s in the process of doing mock trials. It’s been an exciting process for her to use what she’s been learning in trial advocacy and other classes to see how it plays out in real life.

The VTLA and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Foundation are so excited for these two deserving students to have the opportunity to learn and develop their careers with two distinguished firms and mentors, and we look forward to continuing this program promoting future generations of Virginia trial lawyers.

The VTLF is looking for additional donors to contribute to the diversity fund and encourages VTLA lawyers and law firms who are interested in participating in the clerkship summer program to contact Lori O’Toole at [email protected].

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