The Jay Pritzker Foundation has given one million dollars to establish the Jay A. Pritzker Fellowship Program at Northwestern Law, a program that supports post-graduate public interest work in underserved communities.
Each year a significant percentage of Northwestern students aspire to practice in the public interest law sector, where there is a troubling mismatch between demand for services and supply of talent. While there is a tremendous need for legal services in the public interest sector, there is a shortage of opportunity because of the lack of adequate financing. For the past few years, nonprofits and governments have faced steadily shrinking budgets and have been trimming staffing levels accordingly. Highly qualified Northwestern law graduates thus have difficulty securing positions in public interest law.
To address this issue, the Jay Pritzker Foundation has made a $1 million gift to Northwestern University School of Law to establish the Jay A. Pritzker Fellowship Program. Dan Pritzker (JD ’86) and Karen Pritzker are trustees of the Jay Pritzker Foundation. Named after Dan Pritzker’s father, who graduated from the School of Law in 1947, the program will provide post-graduate public interest fellowships. Several fellows will be selected annually over a three-year period, with preference given to talented students who demonstrate financial need.
“We need to do all we can to expand opportunities in this area,” said Dan Pritzker. “We made this gift to honor the memory of my father, a dedicated philanthropist. We hope to inspire others to contribute as well, so that the Law School can expand these types of public interest initiatives.”
The Jay Pritzker Foundation gift is designed to encourage collaboration: it is a challenge gift, in which donors who make a gift of $25,000 in support of post-graduate public interest fellowships will have their gift matched one to one. The Law School is actively seeking match gifts to expand the reach and scope of this program.
“So many of our students see the impact that public interest law can have on the well-being of their communities and society,” said Dean Dan Rodriguez. “The Jay Pritzker Foundation’s generous gift to establish this program enables our graduates to immediately begin serving their communities, regardless of financial constraints.”
The Jay A. Pritzker Fellowship Program expands and enhances the Northwestern Law Public Interest Fellowships program, created earlier this year to support members of the Class of 2013 who are committed to practicing public interest law. Recipients were chosen based upon projects they designed to provide legal services or advocacy to underrepresented clients at a domestic nonprofit agency. Expanding the Public Interest Fellowships program, as this gift makes possible, will increase access to justice in the community while at the same time offering more Northwestern Law students opportunities to launch careers in the public sector.