Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, an Am Law 200 firm, presented the 2017 Donald C. McCleary Gardere Leadership Scholarship to Michael Fechner Jr., an SMU law student, during the Dallas Bar Foundation 26th Annual Fellows Luncheon on April 5.
The Donald C. McCleary Gardere Leadership Scholarship is awarded annually to a second-year SMU Dedman School of Law student in memory of former Gardere managing partner, Don McCleary. Recipients are evaluated and chosen based on excellence in academics, leadership, character and involvement in both law school and the community, core values embraced by McCleary.
“Michael’s life-long commitment to leadership, community service and academic excellence made him a worthy recipient of the Donald C. McCleary Gardere Leadership Scholarship,” said Holland N. O’Neil, chair of the board of directors at Gardere. “Don believed that a lawyer who gives back enriches not only the community, but themselves. We are proud to support the students of SMU Dedman School of Law with this annual scholarship.”
Consistently featured on the dean’s list, Fechner is an active member of the SMU community. Not only is he a staff editor of the SMU Law Review Association, but he is also a published author. In 2016, HarperCollins published Fechner’s book “Lessons on the Way to Heaven: What My Father Taught Me,” a story about his late father’s legacy and his journey after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Fechner is one of 15 law students elected to Barristers, an exclusive service organization that selects members based on scholarship, leadership, service and character. He is a member of Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honors Fraternity. Additionally, he serves as the off-campus director for SMU’s Board of Advocates, a mentor for the Academic Success Program, and was named as a regional finalist for the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Mock Trial Team.
Gardere established the Donald C. McCleary Gardere Leadership Scholarship to honor the memory of the vibrant energy possessed by McCleary and to help the leaders of tomorrow follow in his footsteps. McCleary served as Gardere's managing partner from 1991 through 1995, before he passed away in 1996. His vision for Gardere included participation in local, state and national public affairs, humanitarian activities and pro bono work. He established many of the community outreach programs, including Gardere’s MLK Jr. Oratory Competition, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary in Dallas and its 21st anniversary in Houston.