PDLG Fellows Program
The PDLG Fellows Program (formerly known as the PDLG Summer 1L Program) offers diverse first year law students a route to summer employment at outstanding law firms and legal departments. It also provides the PDLG Fellows with a series of seminars and programs designed to enhance their skills and increase their knowledge of the Philadelphia legal community.
The Fellows Program is PDLG’s flagship program and was launched in 2003. It was modeled after a program of the Bar of the City of New York but differed in certain ways to be responsive to the requirements of PDLG members. The committee worked with the career services deans at the area law schools to gain support for the new Fellows Program and to persuade them to work with PDLG on identifying candidates.
The Fellows Program is intended to provide diverse students completing their first year of law school with the opportunity to be considered for summer law jobs with PDLG members. This program is open to diverse law students – those who have overcome significant obstacles in the pursuit of a legal career, come from a disadvantaged background or come from a background that is underrepresented in the Philadelphia legal community. After going through a rigorous application and interview process, twelve students worked as summer associates/clerks at twelve PDLG employers that first year. In 2015, the Fellows Program included 40 law students who were hired by 35 participating Philadelphia law firms and in house legal departments. In total, since its inception, the PDLG Fellows Program has placed 368 students as summer associates/clerks with Philadelphia law firms and in house legal departments.
The first group of law students who participated in the Fellows Program attended the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova, Temple, Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark, Widener, Howard, and Penn State Dickinson law schools. Drexel University was added after its establishment in 2006. The Fellows Program was subsequently expanded to law students with significant connections to the Philadelphia area even if they attended law school elsewhere. To date, students have participated from a number of other law schools including – American, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Columbia, Charleston, Northwestern, USC, Harvard, Emory, Cincinnati, Michigan, NYU, Cornell, Georgetown and George Washington.
During the Fellows Program, in addition to their jobs as summer associate or law clerks, the students participate in various training seminars and workshops. Other diverse students working in the Philadelphia area through other programs, such as the Judicial Intern Opportunity Program of the American Bar Association and the Montgomery County Bar Association’s first year law student summer program, are invited to participate in PDLG’s activities.
Many of the Fellows Program students have been hired as second year summer associates by PDLG member organizations and many Program alumni have been offered jobs with PDLG members after graduation from law school. Some have gone on to work at government or public interest organizations. Several have gone on to law firm partnerships, the most recent with a PDLG member firm.
The PDLG and Fellows Program alumni understand that the Program is not just a vehicle for finding summer employment, but is also an opportunity to join and help build the Philadelphia legal community. There is a vibrant network of PDLG alumni who give back to the organization and to those coming after them – as advisors, mentors and speakers at PDLG seminars and programs.
Recognizing that diverse students starting law school typically have had less opportunity to interact with family members or friends who are lawyers, PDLG developed a “Boot Camp” for diverse students about to begin law school. Leadership and Visiting Scholar, Boston College Center for Work & Family.
PDLG has begun a series of programs for new associates designed to up start the careers of diverse new associates at PDLG member law firms. One year the seminar focused on what an associate has to do – and not do – to excel in his or her associate class. The next seminar focused on defining, developing and demonstrating skills, styles and abilities that go beyond those common to new associates.
In 2014, PDLG began what is planned to be on-going series of programs for diverse senior associates and junior partners. The program included an invitation only lunch at which senior in-house lawyers and law firm rainmakers spoke about how to give a successful pitch. The attendees were then invited to create firm teams and develop and present a business pitch to a PDLG member law department. Members of the law department to whom the pitch was directed then gave feedback and advice to the pitch team.
Since 2007, PDLG has published a monthly column, “Insight on Diversity” in the Philadelphia legal newspaper, The Legal Intelligencer. Columns are written by lawyers at PDLG member organizations, including Board representatives, diversity professionals and PDLG Fellows Program alumni. and cover a broad range of topics and perspectives. In recent years the columns have dealt with stereotypes, unconscious bias, culture competence, the importance of diversity initiatives, overcoming obstacles to diversity, and moving diversity and inclusion beyond hiring, among other topics.