Prominent Chicago trial attorney and distinguished alumnus Walter Jones Jr. ’72, passed away on October 21, 2021. Though his presence will be missed, his legacy will be felt at the College of Law for many years to come thanks to the establishment of The Walter Jones Jr. Memorial Law School Scholarship Foundation, which he established through his estate. A significant endowment will direct annual scholarship support to College of Law students who, like Walter, were graduates of the Chicago Public School system.
For the 2022-2023 academic year, seven College of Law students have received financial support from the Foundation. The first recipients include David Craan, Darineice Davis, Chanelle Fagbemi, Naida Langdon, Cree Medley, Cierra McCullough, and Maryam Muhammad.
Mary Ann Rojas, Jones’ longtime assistant, is a member of the Foundation and contacted the College of Law earlier this year to discuss Walter’s vision and to begin the application process. “Walter always spoke highly of his experience at the University, both while an undergraduate and at the law school. He said the University shaped him into the lawyer he had become and he wanted to pay that forward by supporting the advancement of African-American and Black attorneys in the legal industry,” said Rojas.
The news of the Foundation’s mission is tremendously exciting to Rebecca Ray, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid.
“At the College, we are so grateful to Walter Jones and the Jones Foundation for carrying out Mr. Jones’ vision of easing the cost of legal education for our Black students. I get to know the students through the admissions process and know how important cost is to prospective students when choosing a law school. It is really special to see several of our students have the expense of an entire year of law school lifted,” Ray said. “We look forward to having cohorts of Jones Scholars for years to come and seeing Mr. Jones’ legacy grow.”
In addition to the financial awards, each recipient is paired will be an attorney mentor. Attorneys from the Chicago law firm of Goldberg Kohn (where Ms. Rojas now works) are working with the students to help navigate the profession's ins and outs, build confidence, and develop their professional network.
“Walter was an extremely engaged alumnus and vigorously supported the College of Law through a variety of ways. The establishment of his scholarship endowment, particularly of this magnitude, is an incredibly inspiring gesture and we look forward to working with the scholarship foundation to honor Walter’s life and career,” added Bill Turner, Assistant Dean for Advancement.
The Walter Jones Jr. Memorial Law School Scholarship Foundation will be recognized at the spring Black Law Students Association banquet. The entire College of Law is extremely grateful to the Foundation and looks forward to honoring more individuals in the years to come and seeing the wonderful things the recipients will achieve.