WilmerHale has announced today the launch of the John A. Payton Summer Associate Fellowship honoring the late John A. Payton, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Sixth President and Director-Counsel and a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering LLP, later WilmerHale, for more than ten years.

“Establishing the Fellowship was a way for WilmerHale to honor John, continue his enduring legacy and underscore to young lawyers the firm’s continuing commitment to advocating for civil rights social justice issues,” said WilmerHale Co-Managing Partner Susan Murley.

The fellowship will provide one summer associate in WilmerHale’s Washington, D.C. office the opportunity to spend half of their summer at LDF in New York City.

Upon his passing, President Barack Obama remembered John as a “legend” and “a true champion of equality,” whose “courage and fierce opposition to discrimination in all its forms” would never be forgotten.

“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. In so doing, John personified the best of civil rights lawyering. We honor John by providing the means for young lawyers to engage in the hands-on work of forging ‘a more perfect union’ using the tools of appellate advocacy that John so loved and that he so wholly mastered,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel.