1Ls Benefit from Weil Legal Innovators Program

Jackson Weihe and Brady Miller
1Ls Jackson Weihe (left) and Brady Miller

When Brady Miller ’26 and Jackson Weihe ’26 started at Texas Law in fall of 2023, they already had firsthand exposure to public interest law, thanks to the Weil Legal Innovators Program. Miller and Weihe were among a group of 10 students from law schools across the country selected for the 2022-2023 WLI class, deferring the start of law school so they could work in a yearlong, paid public service fellowships.

WLI is a unique initiative created by the prestigious Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP law firm to engage incoming law students with pressing social and legal challenges. The highly competitive program is open to students who have been accepted for admission at a small, select group of top U.S. law schools—including Texas Law and Yale, Harvard, and Stanford Universities, among others. (Admitted Texas Law student Tori Bianco is a member of the 2023-2024 WLI cohort, currently serving as a fellow with the Clooney Foundation for Justice.)

Our partnership with the WLI program and Weil Gotshal deepens our shared commitment to seek exceptionally talented students who are interested in lifting communities up using the law as a tool for justice.

Mathiew Le, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid

“Our partnership with the WLI program and Weil Gotshal deepens our shared commitment to seek exceptionally talented students who are interested in lifting communities up using the law as a tool for justice,” said Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid Mathiew Le. “We have been so honored and proud to have Brady, Jackson, and now Tori, embody the excellence that is reflected in so many of our students here at Texas Law. We look forward to continuing to support the program and our students who embark on this journey to do this important and critical work.”

And as they start their second semester of law school, Miller and Weihe have fully realized the value of the WLI experience. “Weil was super helpful with all of the support and networking advice we received, with many different learning opportunities throughout year to help us how best prepare for and, ultimately, succeed in law school,” shares Weihe.

ACLU of Texas

Photo of Jackson Weihe
Jackson Weihe

Weihe served as a legislative research and advocacy assistant in Austin for the ACLU of Texas, where he coordinated policy advocacy for marginalized communities through the legal and policy departments, in preparation for and during the state’s legislative session.

“Thanks to my time at the ACLU, I felt much more prepared for law school, after having the experience reading legislation, analyzing bills, and working with attorneys … all of this really helped shape my expectations,” says Weihe, adding that he also learned from the ACLU staff. “The lawyers there shared with me what they wish they had known when they started law school—which was incredibly beneficial—and helped me with my legal writing.” Advice that Weihe received from ACLU staff included taking advantage of law school resources, always completing optional assignments, and not panicking if his work did not match that of his peers.

The organization was appreciative of his efforts, too. “I could write a short novel regarding the ways Jackson was invaluable to our work in his time with us,” said Andrew Hendrickson, government relations coordinator for the ACLU of Texas. Hendrickson also notes Weihe’s “diligence and thoroughness” assisting at the Texas Legislature. “Jackson excelled at the gargantuan task of reviewing all of the bills filed to identify and prioritize legislation that would impact our priority issues. His keen ability to quickly process and spot issues in an enormous number of complex legal documents will serve him well as an attorney.”  

National Urban League

Photo of Brady Miller
Brady Miller

Miller worked as a legal fellow at the National Urban League in New York City, where he conducted legal and policy research, analyzed policy, and tracked issues. He served as an ambassador and organizer in North Carolina for the organization’s 2022 Reclaim Your Vote campaign to promote voter registration, education, and activation, and helped lead the League’s voter registration and training efforts at its 2023 national conference.

“I benefited from working in an organization where I was doing research and sending memos, while learning how to construct communications and work within a structure,” Miller shares. “I was able to distill what I learned and apply those skills to the work I am doing in law school.”

While at the Urban League, Miller worked on the team led by Jerika Richardson, the senior vice president for equitable justice and strategic initiatives. “Brady was a standout member of our team,” she recalls. “His strong work ethic, legal and legislative research acumen, and can-do attitude was invaluable to the division and its work. Brady represented the National Urban League phenomenally well in a myriad of national, state-based, and local policy and advocacy meetings.”

Cohort Connections

The WLI program kicks off in New York City each summer, where fellows participate in orientation activities. After placement in their public interest law fellowships, the initiative connects participants throughout the year with networking opportunities, resources, and a support structure.      

Miller and Weihe say they developed camaraderie with their WLI cohort. Although the 10 members went their separate ways following the initial orientation weekend—serving in various public interest positions in different U.S. cities—they remained connected.  

At the end of the year, the fellows reconvened for a debrief and networking opportunity. During the July 2023 gathering marking the end of their time as Weil Legal Innovators, Miller and Weihe’s cohort group spent a day volunteering to help New York City high school students with college applications and resumes through the nonprofit organization PENCIL, which connects city public school students with the business community. 

The WLI experience creates a valuable network before law school even begins.

Many 1Ls arrive on their campuses without knowing other students, explains Miller. “It was unique for us to have this separate group of people who are now friends with similar experiences,” he says of their WLI cohort. “We all are going through same thing as 1Ls, although at different law schools. It almost creates a smaller community in addition to Texas Law that I can come back to for support or advice.” (The cohort group even enjoyed a virtual holiday party that included all the previous innovators from the program!)

Miller and Weihe appreciated both the face-to-face gatherings and the ongoing assistance the program offers.

“I started law school feeling reassured and confident,” Weihe says. “I am grateful for those resources and continue to feel that support.”

Applications for the next cohort of Weil Legal Innovators are now open and will close on March 18, 2024.

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