New postgraduate fellowships for civil rights lawyers

People walk by a boarded up building with a poster of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on a holiday observed in his name in Washington, DC.

By U2B Staff 

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The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. (LDF), America’s top legal firm fighting for racial justice has announced a new scholarship scheme that will support the training of civil rights lawyers in the country.

The new scheme, known as the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program or MMSP, will provide funding that will be channeled to full law school scholarships and two-year postgraduate fellowships in civil rights law for aspiring civil rights lawyers in the country.

The scholarship funding will also support summer internships for successful applicants.

This timely initiative aims to tackle the constraints of the current system is lacks inclusivity and has reinforced systemic barriers that have prevented many Black Americans from the opportunity to succeed.

The programme also aims to tackle the financial barriers that prevent Black students from attending law school.


The MMSP is named in honor of civil rights attorney, Thurgood Marshall, and iconic litigator, Constance Baker Motley and aims to develop a new generation of civil rights lawyers who are committed to providing legal advocacy for civil rights.

The scholarships will be made available to aspiring lawyers who display a strong commitment to practice civil rights law in pursuit of racial justice in the southern regions of the United States for at least eight years after completing their postgraduate fellowships.

This new initiative will support the education and training of 50 civil rights lawyers over the next two decades which reflects MMSP’s commitment to support, develop, and train a cohort of lawyers specialising in civil rights who will serve black communities in the South.

Successful applicants will receive a full scholarship that covers tuition, room, board, and incidentals, and will be open to students beginning law school this year.


Successful applicants will also benefit from internship opportunities with LDF and other national organisations, which will provide them with the training as civil rights lawyers early in their law school careers.

The 50 aspiring civil rights lawyers will also receive a postgraduate fellowship at a national, regional, or local civil rights organisation with a racial justice law practice and will also have access to special training sponsored by the LDF and the National Academy of Sciences.

The MMSP will continue to offer support for the newly emerging civil rights lawyers as scholars develop their practice and form a distinguished regional network of legal practitioners.


To apply, students will need to provide their contact and demographic information, a personal statement, two essays, academic transcripts, resumé, LSAT/GRE report, and three letters of recommendation.

Programme applicants will be required to display a strong commitment to racial justice in their pursuit of civil rights law practice.

Applicants will also need to display resilience and leadership qualities that will enable them to respond to challenges.

Aspiring applicants who meet the admission criteria can apply for the MMSP before February 16 this year.

Each application will be accessed by MMSP staff, current and former LDF attorneys, renowned civil attorneys, and leaders in the legal profession and successful applicants will be informed of the decision in May 2021.