Marshall Motley Scholarship Guide: Your Roadmap to Applying and Succeeding

The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program (MMSP) represents a significant initiative designed to support the next wave of civil rights attorneys in the Southern United States. Named in honor of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and civil rights attorney Constance Baker Motley, the program offers full law school scholarships, covering tuition, room and board, and incidentals. This alleviates financial constraints for students who are committed to pursuing racial justice through legal advocacy.


The MMSP is not just a financial award; it is a comprehensive educational and professional opportunity. It requires scholars to commit to serving as civil rights lawyers in the South for at least eight years after graduation. The scholarship is awarded to individuals who demonstrate a passion for racial justice and show potential to advance equality. They must be admitted to an American Bar Association-accredited law school and be willing to delve into an intensive summer internship and a robust preparation for bar examination.

Key Takeaways

  • The MMSP provides full scholarships to law students dedicated to civil rights work in the South.
  • Recipients are required to commit to eight years of regional service post-graduation.
  • The program offers professional development including internships and bar exam prep.

Overview of Marshall-Motley Scholarship Program

The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program (MMSP) stands as a testament to advancing racial justice in the South by fostering the next cohort of civil rights law experts.

Historical Background

The MMSP was established to carry forward the legacy of legendary civil rights figures Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley. These legal luminaries laid the foundations for civil rights advancements throughout the 20th century; the scholarship program continues this by equipping a new generation of lawyers with the skills to navigate and shape the future of civil rights law.

Mission and Vision

The mission of the MMSP is to empower and support aspiring lawyers through comprehensive education and training in civil rights law. The program’s vision encompasses the establishment of a more equitable society by advocating for racial justice and defending civil rights in the Southern United States. The program aligns with the Legal Defense Fund’s (LDF) ongoing commitment to these goals.

Key Components of MMSP

MMSP encompasses several key components to achieve its objectives:

  • Full Scholarship: Scholars receive full tuition coverage, including room, board, and incidentals, for three years of law school.
  • Summer Internships: Internships offer practical experience in civil rights advocacy.
  • Post-Graduate Fellowship: A two-year fellowship is provided post-graduation to kickstart the scholars’ careers in civil rights law.
  • Legacy Commitment: Program participants must commit to practicing civil rights law in the South for at least eight years.

This structured approach ensures that Marshall-Motley Scholars are not only educated but also deeply integrated into the fabric of civil rights legal practice.

Eligibility and Application Process

The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program offers a remarkable opportunity for individuals aspiring to become civil rights attorneys in the southern United States. To qualify for the program, candidates must meet stringent criteria and navigate a multi-phase application process.

Qualifying Criteria

To be considered for the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program (MMSP), applicants must be prospective full-time law students planning to enroll in an ABA-accredited law school. Part-time law students are not eligible. Candidates must demonstrate a commitment to racial justice and a desire to serve Black communities in the South.

Application Guide

The application phase is initiated by submitting a completed application through the MMSP website. Applicants are required to review the Application Guide and Application Brochure, which provide comprehensive instructions on the application process. The application includes the submission of various documents and potentially, responses to essay questions. Candidates should ensure that they have a reliable email address that will remain active throughout the selection process.

Selection Process

Once applications are submitted, the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program team reviews all entries. This selection process starts with Phase 1, which involves evaluating the online applications for completeness and adherence to the guidelines. Finalists are then chosen to proceed to Phase 2, where they are invited for interviews. Following the interviews, MMSP scholars are announced and notified.

Program Benefits


The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program provides comprehensive benefits aimed at fostering the next generation of civil rights attorneys. These benefits are designed to not only alleviate the financial burden of law school but also to cultivate expertise and connection in the field of civil rights law.

Financial Support

The program offers a full law school scholarship that covers the cost of tuition, room, and board, as well as incidentals, significantly reducing the debt that could hinder the aspirations of promising future lawyers. Financial support extends to ensure that scholars can pursue their education without financial strain, focusing on their studies and professional development.

Specialized Training

Scholars will receive special trainings to augment their legal education, providing them with unparalleled advocacy skills. This includes access to summer internships and practical experiences that are strategically aligned with their civil rights focus, enriching their understanding and application of the law.

Networking Opportunities

The program facilitates robust networking opportunities with seasoned professionals in the legal sphere. Moreover, postgraduate fellowships provide avenues for scholars to continue their advocacy work in a practical setting, connecting them with influential platforms and communities in the realm of civil rights law.

Expectations and Commitments


The Marshall Motley Scholars Program sets forth clear expectations and commitments that scholars must meet. These are crucial in nurturing a dedicated cadre of civil rights attorneys who are well-prepared to lead and advocate for racial justice across regional and national platforms.

Academic Requirements

Scholars are expected to maintain excellent academic standing throughout their enrollment in law school. Receipt of the law school scholarship is contingent upon their performance, which enables them to focus on their studies without the looming debt burden typically associated with law education. To this end, they must:

  • Enroll and continue in an ABA-accredited law school.
  • Demonstrate a strong dedication to the pursuit of racial justice through their coursework and extracurricular activities.

Fellowship Obligations

During the course of the program, scholars engage in fellowships tailored to provide practical experience in the field of civil rights. These fellowship obligations include:

  • Summer placements with organizations strategically fighting for racial justice and equality.
  • Required participation in initiatives that contribute to the national conversation on civil rights.

Post-Graduate Engagement

Upon graduation, scholars agree to a service commitment that is pivotal in effecting change within communities. They are required to:

  • Serve as civil rights attorneys for the Legal Defense Fund or other public interest law organizations.
  • Commit to working in the southern United States for at least eight years, applying legal expertise to tackle entrenched racial inequities as passionate advocates of justice.

Impact on Communities and Law Practice


The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program (MMSP) is designed to support and prepare a new generation of lawyers committed to advocating for racial justice, particularly in the American South where the impact on Black communities is profound.

Building Racial Justice Advocacy

Through targeted scholarship support, the MMSP cultivates the expertise of future attorneys to engage in racial justice law practice. By offering comprehensive preparation that includes legal fellowships, professional mentoring, and equity-focused education, these scholars gain the necessary skills to drive transformational change. Often partnering with seasoned civil rights organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, their work contributes significantly to challenging and reducing racial disparities.

Local and National Influence

Graduates of the MMSP are uniquely positioned to influence both local civil rights organization entities and national advocacy groups. These attorneys not only serve in local communities across southern states but also have the potential to shape policy and reform at the national level. The program’s vision extends beyond the courtroom; it encompasses a broader commitment to societal equity, embodying the passion of its namesakes—Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley—in their relentless pursuit of justice.

Frequently Asked Questions


This FAQ section addresses common inquiries regarding the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program, providing precise details about eligibility, coverage, and the application process.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program?

To qualify for the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program, applicants must demonstrate an intention to pursue a career in civil rights law as it pertains to Black communities in the Southern United States. They should also be committed to practicing law in this region for at least eight years following the completion of their educational program.

What does the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program cover for its recipients?

Recipients of the scholarship receive full funding for law school tuition, room and board, and incidental expenses. Additionally, they gain access to career and leadership development opportunities to support their trajectory in civil rights advocacy.

How many scholarships are awarded annually by the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program?

The program awards scholarship to 50 aspiring civil rights lawyers annually, enabling them to serve and advocate alongside and for Black communities in the South.

What is the application process for the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program?

The application process starts online, involving the submission of a comprehensive application package that includes a resume, personal statement, essays, recommendations, transcripts, and standardized test scores. Applicants may also be required to respond to video questions.

Are there any specific fields of study or career paths the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program targets?

The program specifically focuses on individuals seeking careers in civil rights law. Scholars are expected to become legal defenders of the rights of Black American communities in the Southern United States.

How can one increase their chances of being selected as a Marshall-Motley Scholar?

Candidates improve their chances by showing a strong commitment to civil rights issues, particularly those affecting Black communities in the South, demonstrated through previous work, volunteer experience, or academic study. A well-articulated personal statement reflecting this commitment and a robust academic record are also crucial.

Helpful Resources

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