Winter 2022

Painting of a couple walking through a garden

Bob Fiske, ’55, Inspires Gift to Eponymous Government Fellowship

By James Weir

Inspired by the example of Robert Fiske, ’55, a group of donors has made a $90,000 contribution to the Fiske Fellowship Program at Michigan Law, which encourages young lawyers to enter government service by providing recipients with cash stipends and loan repayment assistance. 

The gift was made by current and former partners from the white collar practice group at Davis Polk, where Fiske practiced after serving as a U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York.

“It is a great testament to the fellowship program that my colleagues would make this contribution, and it is an extraordinarily meaningful gift,” says Fiske. “There is more need than ever for highly qualified and highly motivated people with integrity going into government service. In many ways, the program is even more important now than when I started it.”

The donation was made in honor of Fiske’s 90th birthday, and in recognition of the contributions he has made to the legal profession and to the countless lawyers he has mentored throughout his distinguished career.

The importance of really good government lawyers can’t be overstated.

Robert Fiske, ’55

“Those of us at the firm have followed his lead—he worked with us, mentored us, tried cases with us, and set the example of public service,” says one of the donors, who has known Fiske since the early 1980s. “So much great work is done in the public sector, and it needs to get done well. The importance of really good government lawyers can’t be overstated.”

The Fiske Fellowship Program annually selects up to four Michigan Law graduates who are entering government service and provides financial assistance to encourage them to choose public service despite more lucrative opportunities in the private sector. 

Recipients receive a cash stipend as well as loan repayment assistance to cover all educational loan payments, including undergraduate loans, for the duration of the three-year fellowship. 

“The fellowship allows recipients to go into government when they might not be able to afford it otherwise, and the majority of recipients stay in government service long after the assistance ends,” says Fiske. “And those who go into private practice after working in government, as I did, are better lawyers for having had that public-sector experience.”

Third year law students, recent graduates who are serving in clerkships, and alumni in their first post-graduate year of government employment are all eligible to apply for the Fiske Fellowship Program, which was established in 2001 and has awarded 69 fellowships to date. 

With their gift, the donors have helped to ensure the program will continue to support aspiring public servants for years to come. 

“Bob is really one of a kind, and we feel an enduring desire to contribute to the greater good and government service because of him,” says another donor, who has worked with Fiske for more than 25 years. “He is very committed to public service, and to Michigan Law, and it was meaningful to all of us to support two things he holds dear.” 

At top, an artist’s rendering of Bob Fiske’s recent birthday gathering, where his colleagues announced their donation to the program.