For some benefactors, financial aid is the priority

Jerold Solovy ’55, chairman emeritus of Jenner & Block, has been involved in pro bono work and public service throughout his career, but he was recently moved to fund a scholarship at Harvard Law School, inspired by another alum’s story. Having completed only the sixth grade, George Leighton ’43 was forced to leave school in order to support his family. He read extensively and taught himself history and math, and without a high school education was admitted to Howard University and later to Harvard Law School, receiving full scholarships to both institutions. Leighton went on to become president of the Chicago NAACP in the 1950s and later a U.S. district judge for northern Illinois. Solovy established The Honorable George N. Leighton Endowed Fund to honor the judge’s accomplishments and in hopes of providing a boost to other promising students.

Professor Emeritus David Shapiro ’57 has given much to Harvard Law students through his more than 40 years of teaching and writing about areas including federal courts, statutory interpretation and civil procedure. Most recently, he and his wife, Jane Shapiro, decided to give in another way. They have established the David and Jane Shapiro Fellowship Fund to assist two graduate students each year—from Israel and an Arab country—to attend HLS.

Since Sheela Murthy LL.M. ’87 came to the U.S. from India in 1986, she has made immigration law her business. It’s the focus of Murthy Law Firm, which she launched in 1994. She’s also found immigration law to be something of a calling, and through two gifts to Harvard Law School, she hopes to promote its study. “Immigration is a symbol of who we are as an American people, and we really need to do more to educate people about it,” she said in a 2007 Bulletin interview. Murthy has established a travel fund at the school for teachers of immigration law. She has also endowed a financial aid fund for LL.M.s working in the area. Murthy recalled that holding a job as a security guard during her time at HLS made it harder to concentrate on her studies. “I want to make it easier for future students to take advantage of what the law school affords,” she said.

Harvard Law School alumni are not the only people who give to the school. Recently Michael Eisner, the former CEO of Walt Disney Co., his wife, Jane, and their children established a financial aid fund in honor of their friend and attorney, Irwin E. Russell ’49. Eisner, who most recently founded the Tornante Co. investment firm, has been represented by Russell for more than 30 years.