McGuireWoods managing partner J. Tracy Walker IV recently announced the recipient of the 2020 McGuireWoods scholarship at the University of Virginia School of Engineering & Applied Science — rising fourth-year student Cynthia Okoye. A mechanical engineering major, Okoye is a highly accomplished student with an interest in patent law. She visited the Richmond office recently to meet Walker, chairman Jonathan Harmon and other firm lawyers.
Richmond partner Jackie Stone, a former chair of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and a hiring partner for more than 20 years, met with Okoye during her visit. “Cynthia is bright and personable, and I have no doubt she will be very successful as she pursues her interest in patent law. It is so important that the firm offer this scholarship to recognize promising engineering students of color who are interested in pursuing careers in law or business. I am pleased Cynthia was selected as this year’s scholarship recipient.”
The McGuireWoods scholarship is part of law school pipeline project launched by the firm in 2019. In addition to awarding a scholarship each year to a rising fourth-year student, the firm has partnered with the School of Engineering to develop and sponsor the school’s Future Leaders Speaker Series, where students can learn about careers outside of engineering. Past speakers have included Engineering School alums Vincent Toye, group head of community lending and investment at Wells Fargo, and Lori Brown-Simmons, practice director at Dentons US LLP. Toye and Brown-Simmons each addressed with the students how their engineering education contributed to their success in non-engineering fields. 2019 scholarship winner Noah Rushin will attend Columbia Law School this fall.
Walker, who graduated from UVA with a degree in mechanical engineering, explained the firm’s focus on engineering students. “Engineering school graduates are particularly well positioned to do well in law school and to go on to successful careers as lawyers. Engineering schools, like business schools, focus on team-based problem solving, a particularly important skill set for lawyers. It is a demanding curriculum. Students who thrive in that environment have developed strong analytical skills and are poised to do well in law school and beyond.”
Walker envisions increasing the number of scholarships in future years and potentially replicating the program at other schools, but his first goal is to endow the existing scholarship. Please contact Walker to learn more about the pipeline project or if you are interested in contributing to the endowment.