By Mark Fefer – "I'm a devout believer in being a citizen of the world," says Portland partner Milt Stewart.
And he's putting his money—and time and passion—where his beliefs are. Stewart has helped create and fund an international summer fellowship program for students at his alma mater, the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. This summer, the fourteen Milton Stewart Fellows for 2012 headed out of the country.
The program blossomed from discussions Stewart had several years ago with the then-dean of the law school, Lauren Robel. "We were talking about what an enriching experience it was for U.S. law students to have so many foreign students in the LLM program," recalls Stewart, who was then serving on the school‘s Board of Visitors. "I said: 'Too bad we're not sending students the other way.'"
From there, Stewart met with Maurer faculty member Jayanth Krishnan, an expert in India's legal system, to talk about setting up a program for students to intern in legal jobs in India. Later, a second Maurer faculty member joined Stewart on a trip to Dehli to investigate the idea in more detail.
"We went to major law firms, NGO's, and government agencies," says Stewart, who first traveled to India while doing work for a Portland client that wanted to expand there. Six of the organizations were persuaded to take on summer interns in 2010.
"The program has been a huge success," says Stewart. "Literally life-changing experiences."
Last year, Brazil was added to the mix. Stewart convinced a major industrial company and a large business law firm in Sao Paolo to each take two interns, who divided their time between their two employers. This year, South Korea is part of the program, with two students interning at law firms and one working at a large insurer. Next year, Stewart says, he hopes to add China and South Africa.
For Stewart, who was the first member of his family to attend college, the goal is to broaden the students' perspectives and expose them to different cultures and legal systems. "We're giving them options with what to do with their law degree," he says. "We are showing them that there is a world beyond just the U.S. law practice. Also we're giving them a chance to develop relationships with people around the globe, as I've had the privilege of doing in my life and career."
Stewart and his wife have provided funding so that the students' plane tickets, apartments, and expenses are all taken care of. The law firms have also agreed to pay stipends.
Maurer School of Law markets itself as "the national leader in the study of the global legal profession," and Stewart says the fellowship program has become "a huge recruiting advantage for the school."
See a short video about the program here.