Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship

Purpose

The purpose of the Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship Fund is to provide financial assistance to law school students from Erie County, Pennsylvania, enrolled in accredited Law Schools.

Who is Eligible?

Residents of Erie County, Pennsylvania who will be entering their FIRST year at an ABA accredited law school are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Assuming the availability of funds, and provided that the student maintains a satisfactory academic record, the scholarship may be renewed for the student's second and third years.

Application

Applications will be accepted during April and May of each year. You may fill out the on-line application or request an application from the Erie County Bar Foundation, 302 West Ninth Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16502, (814) 459-3111. Announcements of the availability of the scholarship are made annually. Applications must be completed and returned to the Erie County Bar Foundation by May 31 of each year. 

For renewal of scholarships the same application procedures will apply. Determination of renewal will be based on law school academic records and funding, with the Scholarship Committee deciding whether the student’s academic progress is satisfactory.

The Scholarship Committee

The Scholarship Committee will review all applications, making its decisions based on established criteria, focusing primarily on financial need, academic achievement and the applicant’s career statement. The Scholarship Committee is composed of Erie County Bar Foundation Trustees as well as members-at-large.

This scholarship was instituted to honor its namesake,
Samuel J. Roberts.

Samuel J. Roberts was born in Brooklyn, New York, but he was truly a man of Pennsylvania having moved to Erie as a child with his family. He was educated in the Erie School System graduating from Academy High School. He graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Finance in 1928 and the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1931. During Law School he served as editor of the Law Review and his academic achievement earned him membership in the Order of the Coif.

His legal practice included service as Assistant District Attorney of Erie County and Special Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania. When his military service in World War II was completed he returned to Erie Where he continued his law practice until his appointment to the trial bench of Erie County in 1952 as President Judge of the Orphans’ Court. He was elected to a full 10-year term in November 1953. During his tenure he made himself available to other courts in Pennsylvania as a Visiting Judge to assist in reducing their backlog.

In 1962 then-Judge Samuel J. Roberts was nominated to run for election to fill a vacancy as Associate Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He was elected to that position for a full 21-year term. The last year of his term he served as Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. Upon completion of his term he continued to hear appeals from throughout Pennsylvania while serving on the Superior Court as a Senior Judge. Of the more than 2400 opinions written by Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts, many are regarded as landmark decisions.

Chief Justice Roberts served the community of Erie as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by participating in and chairing many civic, legal and humanitarian causes. He lent his capable hand to social welfare and educational agencies, participated in the work of hospital boards, college and university boards as well as chairing committees of the Pennsylvania and American Bar Associations. He served as a faculty member as well as Dean of the Senior Appellate Judges Seminars sponsored by the Institute of Judicial Administration at New York University. He also undertook an assignment as a Special Master for the United States Supreme Court.

His scholarly ability, craftsmanship and openness to new ideas earned him the admiration of the legal world and the educational community. Throughout his career Chief Justice Roberts continued the learning process while he participated in the teaching process. When Judge Roberts took his first oath of office he promised to perform his judicial duties with fidelity - a commitment maintained through his career. It was his desire to make the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the oldest appellate court in the nation, the very best appellate court in the nation.

It is to the life work and to the memory of Samuel J. Roberts that this scholarship is dedicated with the hope of assisting future leaders of the legal profession in accomplishing their goals.

The Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship Fund was initiated by an endowment from Louis and Barbara Pollock to the Erie County Bar Foundation. The Scholarship Fund is held and invested separately from other Foundation monies and is in the form of an endowment which is annually increased by proceeds received from contributions generated by the Erie County Bar Association’s Annual Charity Golf Tournament.

Application for the Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship