Bartie-Greer Opportunity Scholarship Inspired By 30-Year Friendship

02.22.2022

Diversity & Inclusion
Ernest Greer and Jared Bartie
Ernest Greer (JD ’91) and Jared Bartie (JD ’93)

When Ernest Greer (JD ’91) met Jared Bartie (JD ’93) in the early 1990s, the two formed an instant connection. “I could tell he was a good guy,” Greer, who was a 3L at the time, says. “He was real and authentic, not trying to play to an audience.” Bartie, a 1L back then, says Greer took him under his wing and helped show him the Law School ropes. “I had the tools—the mental capacity and the work ethic—I just didn’t know the tricks of the trade or how to maneuver within Law School. The environment was somewhat foreign to me.”

That early connection and mutual admiration has turned into three decades of friendship and mentorship—a relationship that has endured as the two alumni graduated law school and created families and built successful legal careers. Today, Bartie is a partner in the Corporate & Financial Services Department at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and chair of the firm’s Sports Transactions Practice in New York. He is a member of the Law School Executive Committee and the Northwestern Law Alumni ACTION Committee, and a founding donor of the African American History and Culture Endowed Scholarship. Greer is global co-president at Greenberg Traurig LLP in Atlanta, and a member of the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association. They both serve on the Law Board.

This year, Bartie and Greer, along with their wives Wendy Bartie and Patrice Greer, have endowed the Bartie-Greer Opportunity Scholarship, which will support Law School students who bring distinct experiences to their class, such as notable leadership skills or a history of resilience or achievement while overcoming hardship or other personal challenges. “The issue of opportunity was critically important to me because I think what is lost in discussions about the treatment of Black and Brown people in America is that guys that look like Jared and me aren’t asking for anybody to give us anything other than opportunity,” says Greer, whose daughter started her 1L year at Northwestern Pritzker Law this fall. “For some reason, people that look like us are having a hard time getting a seat at the table. So this scholarship is about giving somebody an opportunity to have the professional lives that we’ve had. It’s also about showing respect to the institution that gave me a platform to have opportunities I never would have had, and appreciation for the fact that this University provided access to people like Jared and me to support our careers. And finally, it’s about doing something really special with my dude—my little brother. So it all comes together.”

Bartie echoes the sentiment. “It’s important for people to see us doing this. To see the two of us coming together to create opportunity for people who might be traveling a path that’s similar to ours. The Law School was very generous to me—I was the first one of my family to go to college, clearly the first to go to law school, and I was very grateful for the opportunity. I just needed a shot, and that’s all a lot of people need,” he says. “We want to do the same for other people, to give future law students the ability to compete on an equal playing field.”

The Scholarship will help the Law School continue to make progress in its work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, notes Dean Hari Osofsky. “We are very grateful to Jared Bartie and Ernest Greer for creating the Bartie-Greer Opportunity Scholarship,” Dean Osofsky says. “Their generosity will make a meaningful difference in creating access to legal education for our students and in diversifying the profession. We are so appreciative of their impactful leadership at our law school.”

Both men say they hope recipients of this scholarship will embody resilience, perseverance, leadership and drive. “It’s about that person with grit who shows up and, after meeting them or reading their application, makes you say ‘this is somebody who really deserves opportunity,’” Greer says. “That really is a magical word.”