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W&L Law Offers New Scholarship for Bonner Alumni W&L Law has announced a partnership with the Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation that will provide a $10,000 annual scholarship for Bonner alumni admitted to the school.

In December 2019, W&L Law announced its partnership with the Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation. As one of only three law schools to partner with the service organization, W&L Law now offers an application fee waiver to all Bonner alumni, regardless of admission decision, in addition to a $10,000 scholarship (for each of their three years of law school) upon successful admittance.

Since its founding in 1990, the mission of the Bonner program has been to provide access to education and an opportunity to serve. While Bonner programs are based at the undergraduate-level, the organization has started partnering with graduate schools that provide incentives for Bonner alumni to advance their education as civically engaged and service-minded professionals.

“This feels like the next step for the foundation,” said Marisa Charley, the Bonner Program Director on Washington and Lee’s undergraduate campus. “[It] gives scholars access to education that moves them more deeply into their own fields, allowing them to engage in high-level issues; and it would be difficult to imagine a better [Bonner partner] than a law school, with opportunities for people to go into advocacy and public policy.”

Washington and Lee Law school, with its myriad outlets for those that are interested in civic engagement and community service, could be a fulfilling choice for Bonner alumni. Charley mentioned W&L Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, where student attorneys provide legal services to underserved populations in south and central Virginia, and the Black Lung Clinic, where student attorneys help coal miners and survivors claim federal benefits as they face off against litigation teams from powerful coal companies.

David Baluarte, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at W&L Law and the director for the Immigrant Rights Clinic, said that the partnership makes sense, confirming W&L Law’s values.

“Through our nationally-recognized clinical program, supervised externships, and practicum course, W&L Law students learn the importance of service to the public and the profession,” he said. “Our new partnership with the Bonner program is a natural fit in this regard, and it provides an opportunity to deepen our institutional commitment to service through the Bonner network.”

While admitted Bonners are under no obligation to serve during their graduate program, they will bring with them the inherent value of the Bonner ethic, which is cultivated over four years of community engagement during college. At W&L Law, they can learn how to channel that ethic into a profession.

“My sense is that there’s like a lot of fear, of like, ‘what’s next, what if I don’t have Bonner? How will I shape my civic life?” Charley said. “And I think these are graduate programs are saying, ‘we want to be a part of you thinking about that’.”