NAACP Legal Defense Honors Late President with Fellowship for Lawyers

New opportunity will provide advanced career opportunities for civil rights litigators


In honor of its late president John A. Payton, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has announced the launch of a new fellowship for civil rights lawyers.

John A. Payton, who served as the organization’s sixth president and director-counsel, dedicated his life to fighting for justice and equality before his passing on March 22, 2012.

“John brought his brilliant intellect and painstaking preparation to all of his work, while maintaining an infectious optimism and confidence that made good things not simply possible, but probable,” Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel said in a news release. “John was ‘a lawyer’s lawyer’ to the highest degree, and he was renowned in particular for the excellence of his appellate advocacy. We honor him by providing the means for young lawyers to engage in the hands-on work of civil rights litigation, using the tools of appellate advocacy that John so loved and that he so superbly mastered.”

Payton’s widow, Gay McDougall, posted a video on Facebook and Twitter announcing the new fellowship and expressing her gratitude for the organization to create a program that will allow future lawyers to follow in his footsteps.

The John A. Payton Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy Fellowship will provide opportunities for mid-level lawyers to spend a year as a staff attorney at LDF while working on high-profile civil rights cases.

All applicants interested in participating in the fellowship must submit a cover letter, resume, three letters of recommendation and a writing sample to by January 15, 2015.

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