Chris Torrente ’00 and Jill Torrente, GSS ’19 Found Initiative to Support Law Students With Differences


Giving back to the Law School is nothing new for the Torrente family.

Chris Torrente ’00, a senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis in New York City, has long been involved in the Fordham Law on-campus interview program. He and his wife Jill Torrente, GSS ’19, also endowed a scholarship in Chris’s name in 2019 and supported the Increasing Diversity in Education and the Law program in 2021.

“Jill and I are very grateful for the education we received at Fordham, the career opportunities that were enabled by Fordham, and the mentorship and support provided by Fordham alumni,” said Torrente. “Because of all of these things, Jill and I have looked for ways to give back to the Fordham community and to provide our support to initiatives at Fordham that represent our belief that education can create a level playing field and should enable people to realize their full potential.”

Those reasons have inspired the Torrentes to support a new Law School initiative called “Empowering Every Mind” to help students with learning differences and other challenges learn professional skills and leadership training, to help them succeed in legal and business fields.

The Torrentes recently donated a generous gift to start the program, which is sorely needed, according to the law school’s Office of Student Affairs. Up to 15% of the student body self-identifies as having a learning difference or other challenges—including ADHD, sensory disabilities, mental or physical health issues, or chronic health concerns. That number of students is quadruple what it was a decade ago, according to the Office and can put extra pressure on students to succeed at law school.

Chris and Jill Torrente said they had experienced the struggles of family members who were doing their best to succeed with learning differences and challenges, which inspired their support of this new program.

(L-R) Dean Matthew Diller, Jill Torrente, GSS ’19, and Chris Torrente ’00 at the 2023 Dean’s Society Reception held on Oct. 10.

The couple was recently recognized for their service and support of the law school by Dean Matthew Diller at the Dean’s Society Reception held in mid-October. He said, “We’ve seen a large increase in students who learn differently in our school, and we want to help support them and focus on learning strategies that can help them thrive and go out into the profession and triumph. Your support will help us do that in really critical ways.”

The Torrentes also were thanked by Steve McFarland II ’24, who received the endowed scholarship. He said, “I am a young man raised by a single mother in a Section 8 house in Southwest Philadelphia [and]the likelihood that I would obtain a J.D., having started in a community like mine, is less than one percent.” 

He added, “My curiosity, drive, and resilience allowed me to beat the odds and obtain degrees from Swarthmore, University of Pennsylvania, and Fordham. In my life, nothing has been given, and everything has been earned, so I don’t take others’ generosity lightly.”


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