Jerry Shestack Justice Fellow

Jerry Shestack was an extraordinary lawyer and a driving force in advancing the cause of civil and human rights. One of his greatest legacies was his central role in the founding of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in 1963. To honor his legacy, the Lawyers' Committee and the family and friends of Mr. Shestack have created the Jerry Shestack Justice Fellow Endowment. The endowment will foster the development of young lawyers who have demonstrated the potential to carry on Jerry's lifelong commitment to civil rights while supporting the Lawyers' Committee's impact litigation.

The Shestack Fellow will be engaged in civil rights litigation of national significance, working side-by-side with leaders of the civil rights bar in the Lawyers' Committee and in private practice.

Terms of the Fellowship

A Shestack Fellow will be selected on a bi-annual basis by the Lawyers' Committee in consultation with the Shestack Justice Advisory Committee. It is a two year Fellowship focused on litigation.

Law school graduates who have passed the bar and have 2 to 3 years outstanding litigation experience and/or judicial clerkships are eligible. The chosen Fellow will have demonstrated a passion and commitment to civil rights issues and public service and have shown promise of becoming an exceptional litigator.

Fellows are paid the same salary of Lawyers' Committee attorneys with the same number of years of experience.


Jerry Shestack organized with Bernard G. Segal and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy the pivotal June 21, 1963 meeting at the White House, in which President John F. Kennedy called upon the leaders of the American legal community to join the struggle for racial justice and equal rights. 

He then led the creation of the Lawyers' Committee and served as its first executive director while continuing to practice full time at his law firm Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis.  For the next 48 years, he remained fully engaged as an inspirational leader and visionary, not only of the Lawyers' Committee, but across the civil and human rights movements.

Jerry served as president of the American Bar Association from 1997 to 1998 and as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights  from 1979 to 1980. He led the International League for Human Rights and founded the American Bar Association's Center for Human Rights.

Jerry's life was particularly marked by his commitment to the mentoring and development of young attorneys as social justice activists. He believed passionately that lawyers should embrace pro bono service in defense of civil and human rights as both a responsibility and life enhancing experience.  

Practical Progressive - Official Selection 2008