News

Endowment Funded for McKusick Diversity Fellowship

University of Maine School of Law Announces Successful Funding of Vincent L. McKusick Fellowship Fund in Collaboration with Pierce Atwood LLP. The University of Maine School of Law is pleased to announce the successful effort to fund a newly created endowment fund to promote diversity in the Law School and the Maine bar. This Fund honors Vincent L. McKusick, former Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The Law School now launches a new diversity scholarship program, thanks to an initial pledge of $100,000 from Pierce Atwood LLP, a further gift of $100,000 from the Drs. Victor and Anne McKusick , and numerous gifts from colleagues and admirers of Chief Justice McKusick. The Law School will award the first McKusick Fellowship in Fall 2009.

The Vincent L. McKusick Fellowship Fund is designed to provide tuition and other support to incoming law students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, with the intent of increasing the diversity of the student body at the Maine Law School and within the legal community in Maine. The program will reach out to members of Maine’s new diverse and immigrant communities, members of Maine’s Native American communities, and diverse applicants nationwide. Fellowship awards will include a part-time paid internship at Pierce Atwood during the recipients’ second academic year at the Law School. The first McKusick Fellowship will be awarded in 2009. The Fund is held by the University of Maine School of Law Foundation, which will assist in securing additional support and growing the endowment significantly larger in the coming years.

The lead gift of $100,000 for the McKusick Endowment Fund came from the law firm of Pierce Atwood LLP, where Chief Justice McKusick is of counsel. With this commitment, Pierce Atwood honors a respected colleague and collaborates with the Maine Law School in a coordinated effort to increase opportunities for a more diverse population of law students and lawyers in Maine. Pierce Atwood LLP is the largest law firm based in northern New England and has 120 attorneys who serve regional, national and international clients from offices in Portland and Augusta, Maine; Portsmouth and Concord, New Hampshire and Boston, Massachusetts. For more information about the firm, its attorneys and services, please visit www.pierceatwood.com.

Doctors Victor and Anne McKusick matched the Pierce Atwood gift and donated $100,000 to the Fund, shortly before Dr. Victor McKusick, Chief Justice McKusick’s twin brother, passed away in 2008. “I have decided to match the donation of Pierce Atwood … out of commitment to diversity and to the welfare of my native State of Maine,” stated Dr. Victor McKusick shortly before his death. “And, of course, I do it to honor my DNA-identical brother.”

Victor McKusick was University Professor of Medical Genetics and Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He received the Japan Prize for Medical Genetics in 2008, awarded to him for his leadership in establishing and developing the field of medical genetics. The gift from Dr. McKusick was given jointly with his wife of 59 years, Anne B. McKusick, M.D., retired Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"We sincerely thank Pierce Atwood and Drs. Anne and Victor McKusick for such generous gifts and for their commitment to diversity," says Peter Pitegoff, Dean of the University of Maine School of Law. "We are especially pleased to honor Chief Justice McKusick, who has inspired so many people in Maine and nationally with his dedication to the legal profession and to social justice."

In 1952, Mr. McKusick began his career at Pierce Atwood LLP after graduating from Bates College and Harvard Law School and serving as a law clerk to Second Circuit Chief Judge Learned Hand and then to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. From 1943 - 1946, he served in the U.S. Army, participating for fourteen months in the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

In 1977, Maine Governor Longley appointed Mr. McKusick Chief Justice, the first such appointment directly from the bar since the appointment of Chief Justice Prentiss Mellon in 1820. Following his retirement from the bench in 1992, he rejoined Pierce Atwood LLP, where he continues serving today as Of Counsel. In that time, Chief McKusick has received three special master appointments from the U.S. Supreme Court, handling original jurisdiction cases between states.

During his fourteen-and-one-half years on Maine's high court, Chief McKusick brought significant improvements in the structure and operation of all courts, many involving volunteer efforts from within the community, such as Maine's Mediation Program and its Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program.

"This is a great honor for a great man. Chief McKusick has been a mentor to so many people in the legal profession and now that legacy will continue as students who have historically been disadvantaged in education and the workplace will have a chance to develop a career in the law," says Bruce Coggeshall, former managing partner at Pierce Atwood LLP.

Students who have attended secondary or post-secondary school in Maine will be given preference for the fellowships. The program will reach out to members of Maine's new immigrant communities and members of Maine's Native American communities. Fellowship awards will include a part-time paid internship at Pierce Atwood during the recipients' second academic year at the Law School.

In a June '07 article authored by Chief McKusick for The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process, entitled "A Firm Foundation for Life After the Bench," the Chief describes his great satisfaction in hosting regular lunch meetings with new associates and summer clerks at Pierce Atwood LLP. "It's obvious that the Chief has a love of the law and the legal profession that he hopes to instill in the newest generation of lawyers. We trust that this fellowship allows him to do just that," states Pitegoff.

Chief McKusick grew up in Parkman near Dover-Foxcroft, and now resides with his wife Nancy in Cape Elizabeth.

The Vincent L. McKusick Fellowship funds is held by the University of Maine School of Law Foundation. To inquire about making a contribution to the endowment, contact Elena Brandt at 207-780- 4521. To learn more about the career of Chief McKusick, visit: www.pierceatwood.com/bios/mckusick.html.

To inquire about making a contribution to the McKusick Diversity Fellowship Fund, contact Elena Brandt at ebrandt@usm.maine.edu or 207-780-4521. To learn more about the career of Chief McKusick, visit: www.pierceatwood.com/bios/mckusick.html.