2015 Warren Christopher Scholarship Awards Ceremony


O'Melveny Academic Programs

As tangible evidence of O'Melveny's enduring commitment to supporting higher education in our communities, the Firm has established scholarships and built strong ties to our namesake O'Melveny Elementary in Los Angeles and to other schools at the secondary, college, and postgraduate levels. The prizes reward the scholastic achievements of deserving young people in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Beijing, and Shanghai. Additionally, O'Melveny attorneys and staff in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York mentor high-achieving students and scholarship recipients. During the past 20 years, the Firm has contributed over US$9 million toward scholarship awards and devoted many hours to hundreds of students who excel academically but need a helping hand to realize their dreams of attending college or becoming practising lawyers.

The Warren Christopher Scholarship Awards

The Warren Christopher Scholarship Fund was established in 1992 with a gift by O'Melveny's partners to honor Warren Christopher, its former chairman and senior partner, when he was appointed U.S. Secretary of State. Secretary Christopher passed away on March 18, 2011, at the age of 85, but his willingness to help others and his enthusiasm for public service live on in the scholarship program that bears his name.

Secretary Christopher was an alumnus of Hollywood High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and the fund provides scholarships every year to 10 to 15 outstanding LAUSD high school sophomores. The US$20,000 scholarship award is meant to inspire students to complete high school, college, and post graduate school, and the program focuses on high school sophomores because this population of students receives less attention. The students chosen face real risks that their education will be cut short by circumstances beyond their control. Close to 200 Christopher Scholars have been named since the program began in 1994. The challenges facing Christopher Scholars are profound. Often attending high schools with exceptionally high drop-out rates and living in circumstances ravaged by drugs, violence, poverty and illness, Christopher Scholars have gone on to attend some of the finest universities in the country. All Christopher Scholars have graduated high school or are on track to do so (despite a nearly 50% drop-out rate among their peers) and all but four have gone on to four-year universities. Our Christopher Scholars are now teachers, public servants, doctors, lawyers, business people, entrepreneurs, political advisors, and community leaders—all are shining examples of success against long odds.

Creating a Community
The program goes far beyond just financial assistance for college, which is one reason why so many of the Christopher Scholars succeed and why the program has such a dedicated group of scholars who work to support one another. The advisory board and a committee of volunteers from O’Melveny & Myers LLP and outside the firm take a personal interest in each scholar, giving mentorship and career advice, providing job and internship opportunities, and helping scholars find the resources and services they need (including even housing and medical care in some extreme situations). Also critical to our success in these efforts is support from our partnering organizations like the California Community Foundation, the Los Angeles Unified School District, Boojum Institute for Experiential Education, and the South Central Scholars program.

Thanks to the work and generosity of our board, volunteer committee, and a strong network of donors and friends of the program, the scholars also have many opportunities throughout the year to build a network with each other. Such events include art tours hosted by curators at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, job hunting and college essay writing seminars, our annual holiday party at El Paseo Inn on Olvera Street, a three-day summer excursion to which all scholars are invited hosted by the Boojum Institute for Experiential Education, and a summer send-off party for our scholars entering college. We have also been able to provide the scholars access to Kaplan SAT prep courses, help them navigate the world of graduate school, and also find jobs in programs like ours that serve other disadvantaged students.

As one of scholars recently said, “The Warren Christopher Scholarship Program surely proves to be a lot more than a four-year college education scholarship.” Or as another said: “It’s like a second family—or the only family some scholars really have.”

Warren Christopher Legacy
The Warren Christopher Scholarship program held much personal significance for its namesake. Each Christopher Scholar meant a great deal to Secretary Christopher, and their stories and accomplishments moved him deeply. No one read the students’ applications with more care; no one spent more time one-on-one with the students; and none was more devoted to their success in life or more touched by news of their achievements. Before his passing, Secretary Christopher made very clear that one of his final wishes was that the Scholarship program endure and continue to serve future generations—not for his sake, but for those he could help. His deep devotion to the program was also apparent in his request that those who wished to honor his memory make any and all donations to the Christopher Scholarship Program.

Those interested in learning more about the Warren Christopher Scholarship program and supporting it can click here. Those interested in learning more about Secretary Christopher's life and reading remembrances of him from the Scholars and others can click here.

The O'Melveny Scholarship Programs

Los Angeles
O'Melveny & Myers LLP and O'Melveny Elementary School have enjoyed a long-standing special relationship as part of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Adopt-a-School Program. O'Melveny established the program in 1991 to encourage students to stay in school, to succeed academically, and to continue their education after high school.

The Firm has also established the O'Melveny & Myers Scholar Mentor Program where the scholars are paired with an O'Melveny attorney or staff member designated by the Firm to offer guidance and support in connection with the students' academic pursuits.

The O'Melveny Scholarship Program has offered more than 125 needy children from O'Melveny Elementary a helping hand in realizing their dream of attending college. Many have graduated from universities such as MIT, Brown, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, USC, and UCLA.

New York
O'Melveny's New York Scholarship Awards were established in 2003 to encourage high school juniors from the city who embody the values of uncompromising excellence, distinctive leadership, and a commitment to community service to continue to excel and gain admission to college. Each year, a total of 15 eleventh-grade students from five public high schools representing each of the New York City boroughs are selected as O'Melveny Scholars after an application and interview process based on grade point average, attendance, enrollment in college preparatory classes, financial need, and community involvement. The Scholar from each school with the best high school record receives a college scholarship that is renewed annually. The two other Scholars receive smaller annual grants.

In 2007, the Firm implemented a mentoring program in which O'Melveny lawyers are paired with the 15 O'Melveny Scholars. The mentoring program is designed to foster even stronger relationships with both the O'Melveny Scholars and the participating high schools. The mentors assist the Scholars with the college application process by proofreading their applications and essays and helping them set academic goals.

San Francisco
The O'Melveny Scholarship Awards program in San Francisco was established in 2006 for the students of San Francisco's Balboa High School. During the inaugural year, three students—one from each of the three grades—were named O'Melveny Scholars. Currently, one tenth grade student from Balboa High who best exemplifies our firm values of excellence, leadership, and citizenship is selected from a group of three nominees.

Shanghai and Beijing
In Shanghai, a total of nine junior undergraduates and second-year graduates from the three leading Shanghai law schools, Fudan University School of Law, the East China University of Political Science and Law, and the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade School of Law, received O'Melveny Legal Scholarship Awards.

In Beijing, a total of 12 junior undergraduates and second-year graduates are selected from the five leading Beijing law schools, Peking University, University of International Business and Economics, Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, and China University of Political Science and Law, for the Legal Scholarship Awards.

All recipients complete a rigorous application process that includes recommendations, review, and an interview by committees comprised of distinguished legal professionals, law professors, and representatives from the Firm.

“When I was 16, a scholarship, modest by today's standards, made it possible for me to attend the University of Redlands. It is my dream that over the years the Christopher Scholarship Program will make a similar difference in the careers of at least several young people. The lives of each of the people involved are of incalculable and enduring importance.”

Former Chairman and Senior Partner Warren Christopher

In 1985, when the Los Angeles Unified School District created an "adopt-a-school" program, the Firm took under its wing its namesake, the O'Melveny Elementary School, to encourage the students there to stay in school, to succeed academically, and to continue their education after high school.