Our goals with the Social Entrepreneurs in Legal Transformation Program are simple. We wish to provide much-needed support for Ashoka Fellows organizations engaged in changemaking affecting the legal sector, while providing the next generation of law students a unique social entrepreneurial experience. Among other benefits, the program contributes to amplifying and augmenting the number of lawyers in the social innovation field. The program will match law students with interested Ashoka Fellows for summer internship opportunities.
Changemaking begins with passion. Passion for a cause, passion for community, passion for an idea, passion for a better world. Social Entrepreneurs are themselves vehicles for this passion, accepting the call to help others with every ounce of their being, utilizing their unique skills and characteristics. These skills and characteristics allow social entrepreneurs to take on different challenges and when working together, social entrepreneurs can address just about any societal issue.
Law students embody the same type of passion. This passion is coupled with the determination to achieve the goals they set their mind to: a more equitable and just world. Law students can play an essential role in changemaking, as social entrepreneurs themselves, and/or lawyers who understand the needs of social entrepreneurs and the issues that most impact their work. Lawyers are able to approach systems change in unique ways given their ability to work across disciplines and affecting issues of ownership and resources.
Public interest and service law has ballooned within legal education in recent years, as law students have shown increasing desire to be vehicles for positive change. However, traditional legal education may not fully emphasize the potential for interdisciplinary approaches, practical application of learned theory, innovation, and creative thinking. The Ashoka framework of addressing root problems to reach the best solution for all parties helps expand the avenues that lawyers see as means to pursue positive social impact.
Connecting law students to social entrepreneurship early on will accelerate the community of changemaker lawyers with lasting impact and ripple effects through the world.
Ashoka Fellows will create a project proposal focused on a legal need to be addressed by the incoming intern. A law graduate on staff will mentor and supervise the intern. An attorney from an Ashoka pro bono partner will be paired with the Fellow and intern to assist the Fellow Organization with their legal project and act as a mentor to the intern.