Expanding public interest options

Leslie Ridgeway • January 17, 2024
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When Professor Emeritus Rob Saltzman was in law school, his career interests were in public service and public policy, but the options were limited. He hopes to help open up those kinds of opportunities for USC Gould School of Law JD students with interest in advocacy for LGBTQ+ communities by funding a summer internship stipend offered through the Barbara F. Bice Public Interest Law Foundation.

Saltzman, an associate dean and professor of lawyering skills at USC Gould for 27 years before retiring in 2015, is currently supporting the new Rob Saltzman Public Interest Summer Grant and has designated a bequest in his estate plans that funds the grant in perpetuity.

“A number of people go to law school wanting to do good deeds through public interest work; to be involved in public policy and public service, but structurally, the opportunities can be hard to find,” he says. “There’s been a disconnection in the amount and variety of opportunities for students who want to do this kind of work, and I hope this internship helps to rebalance that.”

The stipend is open to students who want to pursue LGBTQ+ civil rights or public policy advocacy and supports a 10-week summer internship at a nonprofit organization or in a government position anywhere in the U.S. Saltzman says he sees his donation as constructive action in a political climate that leaves many wondering what they can do to benefit marginalized communities.

“Given everything negative that’s going on with respect to LGBTQ+ people and issues, I wanted to do something specific that would be positive, productive, helpful and give back to Gould,” he says. “Gould stands out in its commitment to public interest and public service and being aggressive about creating those opportunities. I’m pleased to see Gould’s public interest law focus is robust, and I hope there are more students interested in it.”

3L Daniella Henry, selected as the second student to receive the Saltzman grant, used the grant for a summer internship with the ACLU of Southern California, where she worked with the Education Equity team on indigenous justice related to education, the arts and mental health resources, as well as litigation.

“It’s amazing to have this option, especially since not many funding resources focus on queer students,” says Henry, whose career goals include seeking out fellowships to work on indigenous justice and education in rural areas. “Queer students are more likely to struggle in school. The work we do [at the ACLU] is important, and this grant makes it financially feasible to do it.”

Interim Dean Franita Tolson praised Saltzman for his donation providing more flexibility to JD students exploring their career options. “We are grateful for Rob’s generous support of our students, both now and in the future,” Tolson says. “This opportunity undergirds our public interest law program and gives our students the chance to pursue their legal careers in the nonprofit and public policy arena.”

To set up an estate gift to benefit future generations of USC Gould JD students, please contact Margaret Kean, assistant dean of development at [email protected] or call (213) 821-6342.

Learn more about USC Gould gift planning »

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