Celebrating 'proud and lively' careers: Heyman Fellows pursue federal service in the public interest
Post Date: December 2006
Holly Idelson '99,
Adam Szubin '99 and
Anna Spain '04
Leo wise '03 thought it might be hard to top his first assignment as a lawyer: quizzing witnesses as part of the trial team in the U.S. Justice Department's $280 billion tobacco case against Philip Morris.
Then came his second assignment: joining the task force in the prosecutions of former Enron executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.
"It's far exceeded anything I could have imagined," said Wise, who now works for the fraud section of the Justice Department’s criminal division. "I feel incredibly lucky to get to do this every day."
Wise's experiences were made possible in part by the Heyman Fellowship Program. Samuel J. Heyman '63, a former assistant attorney general and assistant U.S. attorney, founded the program in 2000 to encourage Harvard Law graduates to take jobs in the federal government. He joined the Justice Department during the administration of President Kennedy, who had urged young people to pursue government service, which he called "a proud and lively career."
"Sam Heyman had a vision that in his day it was incredibly exciting and prestigious to go into the federal government," said Carol Steiker '86, the program's faculty adviser. "He wanted to do a little bit to revive the sense of excitement and mission that lawyers in an earlier generation had."
In the six years since, 117 HLS graduates have gone on to work in a broad array of policy and legal jobs throughout the federal government, in the military and in Congress - from assistant U.S. attorneys to foreign service officers - as Heyman Fellows.
Each fellow receives a one-time $5,000 stipend and up to $25,000 in loan repayment assistance. To get more students thinking about government service during law school, the program also offers smaller $750 stipends to students who work in federal government internships during the summer.
Many Heyman Fellows were drawn to serving in the government long before they heard about the fellowship, but they say the financial boost early in their careers eased the decision to choose public service.
"The time you start out is when you are really pinching pennies, and that's when the fellowship was there to cushion the blow," said Adam Szubin '99, who directs the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Joan Ruttenberg '82, the director of the Heyman Fellows Program, said the support for federal service is especially valuable because without it, some students would find "it can be very difficult to resist the financial and psychological temptations of private practice."
As helpful as the financial assistance, fellows say, are the recognition and sense of community the fellowship creates among graduates interested in public service.
"Its larger value for me was just the affirmation that federal service is a worthy career choice," said Holly Idelson '99, who has worked for the staff of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Ind.-Conn.) on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs since 2001.
Even after the three-year fellowship, former fellows make themselves available to mentor current fellows and students thinking about federal service.
"It makes you feel part of something larger than your isolated experiences - it really feels like a community and a prestigious community to belong to," said Anna Spain '04, who works as an attorney-adviser in the U.S. State Department.
At the program's seventh annual dinner in October, held in Washington, D.C., Heyman recalled the first such gathering, which only nine people attended. By contrast, at this year's dinner, dozens of fellows joined Heyman, Dean Elena Kagan '86 and her classmate and keynote speaker John B. Bellinger III '86, the State Department's legal adviser.
"This program has really come a long way and has been remarkably successful beyond my wildest dreams," Heyman said.
Fellows emphasize the responsibility they've received early in their careers.
Spain, who works in the Office of the Legal Adviser for International Claims and Investment Disputes, has served as a delegate to a United Nations compensation commission and will soon try two cases before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in The Hague.
"To be able to be a new attorney and have two cases running and taken to trial is just a phenomenal experience and is sort of the level of experience you can only get in government," Spain said.
Mark Freeman '03 has argued 12 times before federal appellate courts in the two years since he joined the Justice Department’s civil division, in cases with over $1 billion at stake in all.
Perhaps no other former Heyman Fellow has been given as much responsibility as Szubin, who oversees the Treasury Department office that administers U.S. government sanctions against countries such as Iran and Cuba as well as programs targeting terrorist financiers and narco-traffickers.
"I find it enormously rewarding," said Szubin. "You get a tremendous amount of responsibility, get to work on the most interesting issues of the day and feel like you're a part of something bigger than yourself."
|Where they've Gone|
|Department of Justice||33|
|U.S. Attorney's Offices||11|