Dickinson Law's Francesca Kester receives Joseph T. McDonald Scholarship

Michael J. McDonald, a 1979 Dickinson Law alumnus, presents the Joseph T. McDonald Scholarship to third-year law student Francesca Kester, who plans to begin a federal judicial clerkship in the Middle District of Pennsylvania after graduating in May. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

CARLISLE, Pa. — Third-year law student Francesca Kester was named the 2016 recipient of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation Joseph T. McDonald Scholarship. Michael J. McDonald, a 1979 alumnus and managing partner of McDonald and MacGregor LLC, presented the award to Kester in the Apfelbaum Family Courtroom and Auditorium, located in Lewis Katz Hall at Dickinson Law.

“Receiving this award is one of the greatest honors of my law school career,” said Kester. “From the very beginning of this journey, my focus and my passion has always been trial advocacy. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet Mr. McDonald, someone who shares that focus and that passion, and be presented with an award for something that I just genuinely love to do.”

Established in 2013 in memory of his father, the Joseph T. McDonald Scholarship is awarded annually on a competitive basis to an applicant who is a third-year, full-time student at Dickinson Law. In order to qualify, candidates must be a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Law Student Division, a Pennsylvania resident who is involved in the trial advocacy program, and must be interested in pursuing trial advocacy after graduation.

“What my father cared about most was professionalism,” said McDonald. “He loved the law, and he cared about others. When I read Francesca’s résumé and letters of recommendation, I was immediately impressed with her longstanding commitment to trial and appellate court advocacy, the national trial team and moot court. I knew she was the perfect fit for this award — and my father would have agreed.”

Kester has an outstanding record of academic achievement and community service. She was a regional finalist in the ABA National Moot Court Competition; was awarded Best Written Brief in the Philadelphia Regional ABA National Moot Court Competition; and was champion of the 1L Mock Trial Competition. She recently received the D. Arthur Magaziner Human Services Award for her leadership and commitment to service.

Kester received her bachelor of arts in English literature, magna cum laude, in 2014 from Marywood University in Scranton, where she was a member of Volunteers in Action. In 2012, large portions of her city were destroyed by Hurricane Irene, and she spent weeks alongside other members of her community shoveling mud, draining living rooms, and doing anything she could to help her neighbors recover.

Kester’s passion for helping others followed her to Dickinson Law. As a first-year law student, she volunteered at Bethesda Mission, a homeless shelter for men in Harrisburg and quickly became student coordinator of what is now known as the Bethesda Mission Legal Intake Clinic. She recently completed work alongside Dickinson Law Clinical Professor of Law Medha Makhlouf to establish the law school’s first Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic (MLP), which works to reduce health disparities and improve health in vulnerable communities through joint medical-legal advocacy. Upon completing this work, she began working with Katherene Holtzinger Conner, director of Dickinson Law's internship program and public interest placements, to identify pro bono opportunities in the greater community for Dickinson Law students. Kester worked with Conner to hold an expungement clinic for low-income individuals with criminal records.

In December, Kester completed a judicial clerkship with federal Judge Martin C. Carlson of the Middle District of Pennsylvania. She is currently a certified legal intern at the Dauphin County Public Defender’s Office; a research assistant to Conner; executive chair of the Moot Court Board; a member of the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Team; a member of Dickinson Law’s National Trial Team; a member of Dickinson Law’s Public Interest Law Fund; a member of the Student Bar Association Community Outreach Committee; and a Law Lion Ambassador.

Learn more about the Joseph T. McDonald Scholarship Program

Last Updated January 30, 2017