European Union flags in front of the Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium. Credit: Jan Kranendonk/
European Union flags in front of the Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium. Credit: Jan Kranendonk/ (Jan Kranendonk)

A foundation funded by Squire Patton Boggs is broadening its scope by providing fellowships to students at law schools in Qatar and Belgium.

For more than a decade, the nonprofit, now called the Squire Patton Boggs Foundation, has funded fellowships for American law school students who wish to do public interest work in the summer.

This fall the firm’s Brussels office will establish a similar fellowship at the College D’Europe in Bruges. The firm will also fund a fellowship for a Russian student doing graduate work in human rights law at the George Washington University Law School.

“We are exploring fellowships with other of the firms European office locations,” said the foundation’s president, John Oberdorfer, a retired partner at legacy firm Patton Boggs. “The hope is to be able to expand in that direction.”

Tapping into the firm’s deep connections in Qatar, the foundation has already accepted three students from that country. This past summer, Asma Al Khulaifi, a student at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, was the first fellow to complete Squire Patton Boggs-funded work there. She worked for Education Above All, an initiative that tries to promote education in conflict areas.

“That kind of an opportunity is really unknown out there,” Oberdorfer said. Patton Boggs, which merged with Squire Sanders in 2014 to create Squire Patton Boggs, was the first U.S. firm to be licensed in Doha, according to the firm.

The Squire Patton Boggs Foundation was formed in 2000, using attorney fees awarded to the firm when it represented a group of African-American iron workers who sued their union for discrimination. Oberdorfer had worked on the case.

The foundation has funded projects for 190 fellows from law schools across the U.S. since its inception. Fellows have worked for Human Rights Watch, the International Criminal Court at The Hague, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other organizations.