A lawyer, a naval officer, and a citizen of the world, John S. Bainbridge ’41 made a long and lasting impact on legal institutions in Africa and the United States through his efforts to offer legal instruction to students of developing countries.
As associate director of the newly created International Fellows Program at the School of International Affairs at Columbia University, in 1960 Bainbridge spearheaded the Staffing of African Institutions of Legal Education and Research (SAILER) program. SAILER worked to provide new countries in postcolonial Africa with the resources to cultivate their respective law programs. Over the span of a decade, Bainbridge sent more than 100 lawyers and professors to share their expertise at African universities and supported African students in studying law in the United States.
Born 1915 in New York City, Bainbridge attended Harvard University. Upon graduation from Columbia Law School in 1941 he served as an officer in the United States Navy in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, Bainbridge worked in private practice. In 1956, he returned to Columbia Law School as an assistant dean and served as an assistant to the University’s president until the mid-1960s. At the conclusion of his leadership of SAILER in 1972, Bainbridge authored the book, The Study and Teaching of Law in Africa.
The John S. Bainbridge Fellowship was created in 2006 through the generosity of William S. Beinecke ’40. It is awarded annually to outstanding Columbia Law School students who share Bainbridge’s passion for public interest law in Africa. The fellowship allows students the opportunity to participate in summer internships with public interest organizations in Africa, or with international organizations dealing with human rights issues in Africa.