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Law Schools Team Up with Community Colleges to Increase Diversity in California’s Legal Profession

Riverside City College

Summary: California community colleges have paired up with local law schools to help students gain admission and bring diversity to the state’s legal community.

Without proper guidance, it can be overwhelming for prospective law students to figure out what they need to do to apply to law schools, and especially how to increase the odds of being accepted. What courses should they take? How does one prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)? How will law school be different from undergraduate classes?

The Pathway to Law School Initiative seeks to provide answers to the above questions to students in California, according to PE.com. The partnership includes 24 community colleges and 6 law schools. The program will be available to all students who are interested in receiving such guidance and applying to law school.

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Students who participate will receive financial aid counseling, mentoring, and will be assisted as they study for the notorious LSAT examination. They will follow an education plan and have monthly meetings with advisors to ensure they are staying on track with their studies. Advisors will select courses that will transfer to four-year universities. These students will even receive a waiver on application fees to participating law schools.

A 2.8 GPA is required to enter the program. A 3.0 is necessary to graduate. Priority registration is also offered to students, ensuring they can sign up for necessary courses.

Students who are successful in the program will have a better chance of being admitted to one of the law schools in the program: Santa Clara University School of Law, UC Irvine School of Law, USC Gould School of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law, Loyola Law School, and UC Davis School of Law.

The program is centered at Riverside City College’s Riverside, California campus. Norco and Moreno Valley colleges, as well as Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, are also included in the partnership.

The program’s ultimate goal is to increase diversity among those who practice law in California. The State Bar of California Council on Access and Fairness created the initiative.

Laneshia Judon, associate professor of paralegal students and business administration at Riverside City College, stated, “There’s not enough people in the legal field to represent the community they serve. I think that people don’t see the pathway, and they don’t see those who are like them in the profession.” Judon and Don Ajené Wilcoxson, professor of business administration at Riverside City College, will direct the program.

Although 60 percent of California’s residents are racial and ethnic minorities, less than 25 percent of its attorneys are minorities, according to a 2011 survey. The program hopes to change these numbers and increase diversity in the profession. The community college system was chosen due to its diverse population. For example, the Riverside Community College District is 78 percent non-white.

The program’s goal is to graduate 50 students per year who will go on to four-year colleges, and, eventually, law school. David Karp, a professor of business and business law at Chaffey College, added that the program provides several benefits that students at community colleges typically do not receive. For example, they can participate in statewide debate competitions, visit law schools, and interact with attorneys, judges, and law school personnel.

Students are excited about the opportunities the program will provide. Griselda Arredondo, an 18-year-old student at Riverside Community College, said, “I was confused about how to move on to law school. I thought it would be extremely hard. Having a set plan, it makes it seem more possible than before.”

Photo credit: tbparchitecture.com

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