Columbia Law School Announces New Davis Polk Leadership Fellowship

The inaugural Davis Polk Leadership Fellowship program provides leadership training, mentorship, and a stipend to six students.

A new fellowship that cultivates leadership and collaboration has been awarded to six students as part of Columbia Law School’s recently launched Davis Polk Leadership Initiative. The recipients of the inaugural Davis Polk Leadership Fellowship each have the opportunity to launch a collaborative project designed to have a positive impact on the Law School, the profession, and the larger community. The fellows also receive a $5,000 stipend and leadership coaching and personalized mentorship from faculty and alumni.

The Davis Polk Leadership Fellowship is part of the cross-disciplinary Leadership Initiative at Columbia Law School, an initiative funded by a generous grant from Davis Polk that consists of courses and workshops, case studies, research, and professional development aimed at building leadership knowledge and skills. The initiative, launched last year, is chaired by Columbia Law School Professors Susan Sturm and Michael Gerrard and includes an intensive, interactive seminar called “Lawyer Leadership: Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading Change.” The course combines academic and hands-on learning experiences and is taught jointly by Sturm, Professor Colleen Flynn Shanahan ’03, and leadership coach and consultant Emily Gould.

“The Davis Polk Leadership fellows represent an extraordinary range of talents, capabilities, and interests, with a track record of leadership and a commitment to having an impact at CLS and beyond,” said Sturm, who was instrumental in the conception and creation of the program.

The fellows were selected based on their demonstrated leadership experience, their commitment to civic engagement and community building, their ability to collaborate with others, and their willingness to unify diverse perspectives. The fellows receive individualized leadership coaching and support in developing a leadership-related project. They have become a faculty-supported cohort of student leaders committed to enabling other CLS students to have an impact in the world. They serve on the Leadership Development Working Group, a committee comprised of Columbia Law faculty, staff, alumni, and representatives from Davis Polk.

The inaugural recipients of the Davis Polk Leadership Fellowship are:

  • Meher Dev ’19 LL.M., who intends to organize and conduct exercises and workshops to make the Law School and its surrounding communities more religiously and culturally inclusive and sensitive.
  • Ibrahim Diallo ’20, who will seek to build a program connecting CLS students with taxi workers as a way to make a difference in their lives, help reshape labor law in this new economy, and support local residents.
  • Meg Gould ’21, who hopes to develop a sustainable, interdisciplinary way for students to engage with and support current and formerly incarcerated communities in New York.
  • Eric Lenier Ives ’19, who will work toward building reflective practice and collaboration into the caravans and expanding international moot court and comparative asylum work.
  • Udodilim Nnamdi ’21, who will aim to increase diversity among the students pursuing careers in public international law and international human rights; and help ensure that those fields represent a diversity of viewpoints and perspectives.
  • Caleb King ’20, who hopes to build on a collaboration between CLS students and Rikers incarcerated individuals designed to increase literacy rates, and form a supportive community and partnership between law students and communities directly affected by mass incarceration.

In addition to developing these projects, the fellows will be introduced to the Law School community at a Nov. 12 event called “Designing for Impact” to talk about the opportunity to apply for an Innovation Grant, to be launched in January, and to use a design-lab format to brainstorm about participants’ project ideas and learn about possibilities for collaboration. The fellows will offer an illustration of the kinds of projects that could be supported by an innovation grant, as well as an opportunity for CLS students to join the fellows in building their projects if they align with their interests.

The initiative and the fellowship aim to use legal, interdisciplinary, and interpersonal training to prepare students for careers as lawyers leading diverse teams in pursuit of common goals. Both expand on Columbia Law School’s professional development curriculum offered by the Office of Career Services and Professional Development. The Law School’s offices of Student Services, Graduate Legal Studies, and Social Justice Initiatives are also part of the effort.

“These fellows will play a crucial role in the broader Law School initiative focused on preparing students to develop the skills they will need to rise to complex challenges that require vision, strategy, motivational skills, improvisation, and creativity,” said Sturm.

Columbia Law School’s Leadership Initiative was launched as a three-year, multi-pronged strategy to better prepare students for the demands they will face after graduation. Among the projects supported by the initiative are: spring break pro bono caravans, teaching assistant training, affinity group leadership development, workshops on building self-awareness and self-empathy, and workshops to facilitate effective transitions from law school to practice.

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Published on November 7, 2018