Mary Jo Schrade (J.D. ’93) is the assistant general counsel and regional director of Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, based in Singapore. Seeing a need to give back to her law school community amidst the pandemic and the rising visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, Schrade gave a significant gift to the Ronald J. Freeman Chapter of the Black Law Students Association to provide tuition assistance to students.
What led you to make your donation to BLSA?
I thought about how my parents paid for me to go to college and how that allowed me to graduate without debt. I thought about the redlining and the lack of access and the ability for parents to pay for their children’s education so I knew that if I could provide the funding for somebody to go to law school and if I did it at Georgia State, which I know is a great school and one that put me on the path to where I am today, then I should do it. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to give and it makes me happy to think that somebody can graduate from law school without a large amount of debt hanging over their head.
What advice do you have for the law community in providing more support for students of color?
As the Black Lives Matter movement gains more traction and visibility it is important to do more than posting a statement on Instagram or Facebook indicating your support. I encourage people to think of something concrete to do to help people during this movement. We talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion and there are a million studies that show that a truly diverse workforce is fundamental to success. I want to work for a company that cares about these things and one that is taking action to achieve these things. I think that if each one of us just did something, that would help tremendously.
Do you have any advice for current law students and young lawyers?
When I think about the graduating law students, I would say that you should really look at the track record of the law firm or corporation that you are applying to, to really see if they are not only talking about things but actually doing things about increasing diversity. Taking action to increase representation has to be something you can measure in numbers and percentages and that’s something that I would look at as somebody coming into the workplace. Donate your time and find the right way to mentor others because it can make a huge difference and result in a much stronger pipeline of diverse people to come into college and graduate school.
Written by Kayla Watkins