John S. Bainbridge '41
The John S. Bainbridge Fellowship
A lawyer, a naval officer, and a citizen of the world, John S. Bainbridge ’41 made a long and lasting impact on legal institutions in Africa and the United States through his efforts to offer legal instruction to students of developing countries.
As associate director of the newly created International Fellows Program at the School of International Affairs at Columbia University, in 1960 Bainbridge spearheaded the Staffing of African Institutions of Legal Education and Research (SAILER) program. SAILER worked to provide new countries in postcolonial Africa with the resources to cultivate their respective law programs. Over the span of a decade, Bainbridge sent more than 100 lawyers and professors to share their expertise at African universities and supported African students in studying law in the United States.
Born 1915 in New York City, Bainbridge attended Harvard University. Upon graduation from Columbia Law School in 1941 he served as an officer in the United States Navy in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, Bainbridge worked in private practice. In 1956, he returned to Columbia Law School as an assistant dean and served as an assistant to the University’s president until the mid-1960s. At the conclusion of his leadership of SAILER in 1972, Bainbridge authored the book, The Study and Teaching of Law in Africa.
The John S. Bainbridge Fellowship was created in 2006 through the generosity of William S. Beinecke ’40. It is awarded annually to outstanding Columbia Law School students who share Bainbridge’s passion for public interest law in Africa. The fellowship allows students the opportunity to participate in summer internships with public interest organizations in Africa, or with international organizations dealing with human rights issues in Africa.
“The project made a difference in Africa at the time,
as new nations emerged, and I believe, had a lasting
impact in a thousand ways as the students and teachers
involved matured into leaders in their countries."
-David Brownwood, Senior Counsel,
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
“One seeking the unifying theme in John's career would
find it, I suggest, in development, in helping to build
new, vital and responsive educational institutions in many places, from the new nations of Africa to the western suburbs of Chicago.”
-William Burnett Harvey, Professor of Law and
Political Science, Boston University School of Law
“It is hard to express how grateful I am for this phenomenal experience and how appreciative I am that you recognize the importance of human rights work, and student engagement, in Africa.”
-Funmi Showole '13, Bainbridge Fellow
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