2010 Warren Christopher Scholar

Remarks at O'Melveny's 2012 Partner Offsite


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 8 to 10 outstanding LAUSD high school sophomores. The scholarship award is a payment toward four years of college tuition, and the program focuses on sophomores because this population of students receives less attention, and the program's goal is to encourage promising but financially needy students to finish high school and pursue a college education. Close to 170 Christopher Scholars have been named over the past 19 years. All have graduated from high school, and all but a handful have graduated from college, is in college currently, or plans to attend to college after graduating from high school. 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, and poverty, Christopher Scholars have gone on to attend some of the finest universities in the country. Many Christopher Scholars are now teachers, public servants, doctors, lawyers, or business people—and they are all shining examples of success against long odds.

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; nor 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. His deep devotion to the program was also apparent in his request that those who wished to honor his memory make 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.