Smith Anderson Awards 2023 1L Excellence in Diversity Fellowship to Duke University School of Law Student


Smith Anderson has selected Duke University School of Law student Cecilia Poston as the recipient of its 2023 1L Excellence in Diversity Fellowship for her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion through her activities, background and life experiences. Cecilia works for the advancement of LGBTQ+ students and for clemency for rehabilitated prison inmates.

This is the second year that Smith Anderson has awarded the fellowship, which includes a scholarship of up to $20,000 and a nine-week hybrid summer experience. Cecilia will work at Smith Anderson for six weeks and an additional three weeks with the in-house corporate legal department of Chiesi USA, a Smith Anderson client and specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing and promoting products for the hospital, adjacent specialty and rare disease markets.

At Duke University School of Law, Cecilia’s activities include OutLaw, an affinity group for LGBTQ+ students and their allies. Its goals are advancing the professional careers of members; building a community within and outside the law school; increasing LGBTQ+ representation at the law school and promoting the study of legal issues affecting LGBTQ+ communities. Cecilia also works on The Clemency Project, a Duke University School of Law program where she prepares clemency petitions on behalf of people incarcerated in North Carolina who have demonstrated rehabilitation that warrants a sentence commutation. Additionally, as a member of Duke Law’s Innocence Project, Cecilia reviews cases of people who may have been wrongly convicted to help determine whether the cases should be handled by Duke’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic.

"We are thrilled to award Cecilia with the 1L Excellence in Diversity Fellowship," said Smith Anderson’s Director of Professional Development Blake Fricks, adding that the firm received over 50 applications for the program. "She has an impressive record of academic success and has demonstrated a powerful desire to continue to work toward three core values of our firm - diversity, inclusion and justice."

Cecilia is earning her J.D. and her Master of Arts in Bioethics & Science Policy from Duke University, with an expected graduation date of 2025 from both programs. She received a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Classics, with distinction, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Smith Anderson is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion within our firm, the legal profession and the greater business community. As a law firm with a significant public profile for the past 110 years, we recognize that we play a pivotal role as a voice of change and influence within the legal profession and the communities we serve. We seek to attract, develop and retain attorneys who share this commitment and demonstrate the potential to make a positive contribution toward diversity and inclusion in the place we live and work.


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