Leading litigation funder Validity Finance has launched a new Equal Access Fellowship, providing a paid summer fellowship to first-year law students of diverse backgrounds. For 2019, the company has selected two distinguished first-year students to spend the summer in Validity’s New York office, with an option to split their time working for a pro bono organization of their choice.
The two inaugural Equal Access Fellows are New York University School of Law JD candidate Amanda Gonzalez Burton and Georgetown University Law Center JD candidate Jarrett Lewis.
“We created the Equal Access Fellowship to help law students from underrepresented backgrounds obtain meaningful experience early in their careers, and begin building the professional networks that will promote their growth,” said Validity founder and CEO Ralph Sutton.
While at Validity, fellows will learn about the burgeoning litigation finance sector and its increasing role in leveling the playing field in commercial disputes. Fellows will interact with perhaps dozens of law firms and help review an equal number of prospective cases seeking funding, performing legal research, participating in client meetings, and drafting articles for publication in the process.
After an initial five weeks, each fellow will have the option of either staying with Validity or spending the balance of the summer with a public service organization of his or her choice. In either case, Validity Finance will pay the fellows’ salaries for the entire 10-week program.
While both Ms. Burton and Mr. Lewis will be based in New York, future fellows will also serve in Validity’s offices in Chicago and Houston as the program expands in size and scope.
Validity expects to maintain an ongoing mentoring relationship with the fellows as they advance through law school and enter the legal profession. Validity hopes participants will emerge from the fellowship with an excellent grounding in the economics of law firms and litigation risk.
The 2019 fellows were chosen through a selective process that included interviews and a review of academic performance. Candidates were also required to submit essays addressing factors that influenced their decision to train as lawyers.
“We want to help lead the litigation funding sector in giving back to the legal community,” said Julia Gewolb, Validity’s Head of Underwriting. “Our new Equal Access Fellowship is an opportunity to invest in the development of our profession by helping promote promising, diverse young lawyers. Fellows will gain not just a solid introduction to the business of law, but an opportunity to meet with dozens of commercial litigation practitioners, helping these young law students build a key professional network early in their legal careers.”
“We are delighted to welcome Amanda Burton and Jarrett Lewis as our inaugural Equal Access Fellows to New York,” Mr. Sutton said. “We look forward to working with these talented law students and are pleased to be offering them an introduction to the world of litigation finance, where stellar lawyers are seeing enormous career opportunities.”