• Fellow Highlights

LOOKING BACK AT THE FELLOWSHIP: Yale Law School Graduate Edward Friedman

2022 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Edward Friedman recently earned a JD from Yale Law School. 

A native New Yorker who was raised in Brooklyn, Edward Friedman (he/him/his) is the first child of Oskar and Diana Friedman. Born with cerebral palsy in New York City and a power wheelchair user, Edward is a passionate disability justice advocate.

At Yale, Edward represented the law school on the Graduate & Professional Student Senate, where he was an elected Co-Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and provided a voice for students with disabilities on the University’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility Resources. He was also on the Executive Board of the Disabled Law Students Association and a member of the Jewish Law Students Association. Edward is deeply involved in New York City politics and disability rights.

We caught up with Edward about what’s next and what the Fellowship has meant to him: 

Where are you with your graduate program now? Whether you’re still in school or you’ve graduated, what’s the next step for you or what are the steps you’ve taken after graduating?

After graduating with my JD from Yale Law School with the support of the Fellowship in May 2024, I look forward to returning to New York City full-time where I will rejoin Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP as a Litigation Associate in September.

There are so many paths beyond college; Why did you feel graduate school was the best next step for you personally and/or professionally? Was it hard to take the risk of going to school or something you always knew you wanted to do? What has it helped you figure out or accomplish?

While serving as the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator at the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) prior to attending law school, I saw firsthand the integral role that agency and Law Department attorneys play in the City’s policymaking and legislative negotiations. At the same time, disability advocates consistently lobbied for MOPD and the City to go even further in protecting and expanding the rights of people with disabilities. My work navigating and managing delicate relationships across community coalitions and inside the governmental bureaucracy deepened my resolve to represent people with disabilities among legal decision-makers.

Photograph of a man in his 30s wearing graduation robes and hat posing in front of a sign that reads "Yale University / Yale Law School".
Edward wearing his graduation regalia in front of the Yale Law School sign.

Over the past two years, what personal or professional accomplishment are you most proud of?

Moving to New Haven to attend Yale Law School was my first time living away from home and without the daily support of my family. As a person with a disability who requires significant assistance with activities of daily living, this was particularly daunting and I am proud to be coming back to New York City with the knowledge that I not only survived but thrived on my own. I just signed a lease for my own studio apartment in Manhattan before I start my new job in September.

How do you describe The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans program to others?

As Daisy always says, PD Soros is a “fellowship with a heart.” I am so grateful to be part of an inspiring community of New Americans.

Photograph of a man in his 20s in his power wheelchair smiling at the camera. To the left is a banner reading "To achieve the New American dream" with the Paul & Daisy Soros logo at the bottom. To the left of the banner is a woman in her 80s, she is smiling at the camera.
Edward sitting in his power wheelchair next to Mrs. Daisy Soros and a PD Soros sign at the 2022 Fall Conference.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying to The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans?

Lean in to your unique New American story and the reasons why you want to pursue graduate school. The PD Soros application is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on how your personal upbringing affects your professional goals. ∎

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