The fellowships are named after former Dean James Vorenberg, a 1951 Harvard Law graduate who was instrumental in shaping the Low Income Protection Plan during his deanship. Vorenberg's law school classmates gave funds to create the fellowship as a memorial to Vorenberg who died in 2000.
"Jim's belief that all Law School graduates should be able to pursue careers in public service, regardless of loan obligations, led him to sponsor the Low Income Protection Plan at Harvard," said Dean Elena Kagan. "It is most appropriate that Jim's classmates and friends have further invigorated this renowned program by creating a fund in his name that supports graduates who participate in LIPP."
Walter, an assistant public defender for Hennepin County in Minneapolis, is grateful for the funds she receives through the Vorenberg fellowship. "I can only say that this fellowship is making my work possible," said Walter. "Harvard Law School promised me that I would not have to worry about finances and paying back my law school education. They were right. They kept their promise."
Leonetti is currently an assistant public defender in the appellate division of the Maryland public defender's office. She is also a member of the American Bar Association's task force on biological evidence. Her commitment to public service was jumpstarted while a student at HLS where she was an active member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.
Two Vorenberg fellows will be selected each year by the director of the LIPP program. The recipients will receive cash awards based upon their educational debt burden.