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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gonzaga Law School creates full scholarships in honor of lawyer Carl Maxey, Judge Franklin Burgess

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The Gonzaga University School of Law has launched a new full scholarship in honor of the late Carl Maxey, an attorney and civil rights leader who graduated from the GU School of Law in 1951.

It also has created the Honorable Franklin D. Burgess Law Scholarship open to all students.

The Carl Maxey Social Justice Scholarship will be given to three incoming first-year law students every year beginning this fall, said law school Dean Jacob Rooksby. Once awarded, the scholarship will continue for each of the three years the student is enrolled before graduating.

“It’s a pretty special program,” Rooksby said.

The scholarship has a competitive application process, and those who receive it will be required to complete 240 hours of attorney-supervised pro bono legal work, take a minimum of 14 credit hours of advanced classes and perform at least 50 hours of public service.

It is designed for students with diverse backgrounds. That diversity can be based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability status, immigration status, military status and socioeconomic background.

“It’s important we provide opportunities for talented and diverse applicants who are interested in social justice,” Rooksby said.

The events of this summer, particularly the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of police, galvanized the law school’s discussion about how to be more welcoming, Rooksby said.

“We’ve had a lot of internal discussions over the last several months in terms of what we are doing to be a welcoming and diverse community,” he said.

Naming a diversity scholarship after Carl Maxey seemed like an obvious choice, Rooksby said. Maxey was the first Black man in Eastern Washington to pass the bar exam and was known for his social activism. Rooksby said the law school got permission from the Maxey family to name the scholarship after him.

“His career was illustrious, and we thought it merited a name scholarship,” he said.

Rooksby said he hopes the scholarship will help draw social justice minded future attorneys to the law school.

“It’s attracting the kind of students who we very much want to be a part of our program,” he said. “This profession has long had a diversity problem. We need attorneys who can help close the justice gap.”

The law school has also launched the Honorable Franklin D. Burgess Law Scholarship, which is designed for diverse students who have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher. All incoming students are considered for the full scholarship, and no additional application is necessary.

Burgess graduated from the GU School of Law in 1966 and would later become a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Washington. While an undergraduate student at GU, he played on the basketball team.

“He’s the all-time leading points scorer in our program,” Rooksby said.

Funding for the scholarships is coming from the university and from donors.

“Initially, we’re self-funding the majority of it,” he said.

In the future the scholarships will be funded from the Dean’s Endowed Fund for Diversity, which has been getting some “generous” donations from alumni after the scholarships were announced, Rooksby said.

The law school is currently accepting applications for admission and the scholarships. Applications are open through April 15. Rooksby said it appears the incoming fall class will be larger than last year’s, which was the law school’s largest entering class ever.

“We are seeing a 50 percent increase in applications this year over this time last year,” he said.