When third-year law student Lindsay Berkstresser recently received a scholarship check from Michael J. McDonald ’79, she also received a piece of advice, “Love the profession, and it will love you back.” This was the same advice that McDonald, who has been referred to as one of the most esteemed personal injury lawyers in Pennsylvania, received from his father Joseph T. McDonald when he decided to go to law school.
Like McDonald, Berkstresser loves the action of being in the courtroom. As a second-year law student, she placed first for the plaintiff’s attorney in the Law School’s Mock Trial Competition. Berkstresser is a senior advocate on the Moot Court Board, competes on the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Team, and is actively involved in promoting the Law School’s Trial Advocacy Program as vice president of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) for the Carlisle campus.
“In addition to the skills I acquired in our formidable trial advocacy program, I have had the opportunity to hone my courtroom skills by working with, and learning from, a number of accomplished attorneys on a broad range of cases including complex commercial litigation, personal injury, criminal defense, insurance defense, and class actions. I drafted pre-trial motions, participated in trial strategy conferences, and created case management plans,” Berkstresser said. She also served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Christylee L. Peck '01 at the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas.
Established in 2013, the Joseph T. McDonald Memorial Scholarship of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation provides assistance to third-year law students enrolled full-time at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law who are involved in the trial advocacy program and are interested in pursuing trial advocacy after graduation. Berkstresser is the first recipient of the McDonald Memorial Scholarship.
But it wasn’t necessarily her advocacy achievements that made Berkstresser stand out from the other applicants. McDonald said that what initially caught his eye while reading over the applications was that Berkstresser would be graduating from law school at the age of 21, an age more likely for a college graduate than a law school graduate.
McDonald visited the Carlisle campus to present the award to Berkstresser, and was accompanied by Grace R. Schuyler ’77, president of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, and Marie Queen, the Foundation’s executive director.
In addition to the Joseph T. McDonald Memorial Scholarship, Berkstresser has been awarded the D. Arthur Magaziner Human Service Award which recognizes third-year law students who have demonstrated good character, sound academic performance, high ethical standards, fidelity to the highest goals of the profession and commitment to selfless human service; The Honorable Gwilym A. Price Jr. Memorial Scholarship for excellence in legal writing and appellate advocacy; the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation's James W. Stoudt Memorial Scholarship which selects recipients based on academic achievement and potential for making a contribution to society and the legal profession; and Phi Alpha Delta's C. Raymond Judice Service Scholarship.
“I am deeply appreciative to all the scholarship benefactors for their support,” said Berkstresser. “I am inspired by the confidence that the scholarship benefactors have in me and will continue to uphold the ideals on which these awards are based. I would also like to thank James Weaver, former Chair of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, who has provided continuous mentorship throughout my education and funded my undergraduate studies through the Brooke Ashley Weaver Memorial Scholarship.”
In addition to her advocacy commitments, Berkstresser is an articles editor for the Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs. She represents the Law School in the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division and is a member of the Cumberland County Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division. She has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the United Way of Carlisle and Cumberland County. Upon graduation, she will join Martson Law Offices in Carlisle.
Scholarship support is only one of the numerous ways to help ensure a bright future for students. Alumni interested in exploring giving opportunities should contact Kelly Rimmer, director of development and alumni affairs, at email@example.com or 717-240-5217.