Fred Rooney’s work demonstrates his lifelong commitment to social justice in the United States and around the globe. He has been credited with creating the first legal incubator model for training new lawyers and for being a catalyst in the transformation of legal education in the US. His work in the development of post-graduate legal education and the powerful incubator that he began in 2007 are forcing law schools to rethink their responsibility to their graduates and to the millions of individuals in the US who lack access to justice. His work is innovative and entrepreneurial and is impacting on an ever growing number of people in the US and abroad.
Fred earned his J.D. from the City University of New York’s (CUNY) School of Law in 1986. In 1998 he returned to CUNY Law to direct a “unique public/private partnership” that offered a network of support and resources for CUNY Law graduates committed to increasing access to justice through their solo and small firm practices. The New York Law Journal, New York Times, Legal Times and American Bar Association Journal have highlighted Fred’s successes and bar associations and law school faculty and administrators across the US rely on Fred’s work when designing their own post-graduate programs.
In January 2010, Fred was awarded the 2010 Father Robert Drinan Award by the American Association of Law School’s (AALS) and on February 5, 2010, he accepted the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services’ 2010 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access, which was awarded to CLRN. The Brown Award recognizes innovative programs that meet the legal needs of those who do not qualify for legal aid yet still aren't able to afford typical legal fees.
In June 2013, Fred completed a 10-month Fulbright in the Dominican Republic where he launched the first law school incubator outside of the United States. Three months later, the American Bar Journal named Fred a "2013 Legal Rebel" and recognized him as "'the Father of Incubators."
On February 5, 2014, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Institute of International Education’s Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) added Fred to its roster of Fulbright Specialists. Since October 2014, he has traveled to Pakistan on four occasions to conceptualize an incubator for recent Pakistani law graduates. Fred was in Islamabad on April 26, 2016 to take part in the formal launching of the first incubator for lawyers in Asia.