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Two-Part Program Prepares Students from Historically Black Schools for Law School Life
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Two-Part Program Prepares Students from Historically Black Schools for Law School Life

Summary: A new program in Maryland will give students from historically black colleges a preview of law school life and help them gain admission.

Students at the four historically black colleges and universities (HCBUs) in Maryland have suffered a disadvantage if they wish to attend law school. Not one of these schools offer any sort of law school preparation course to its students. However, USA Today reports that a new program will provide students the chance to see what it’s like to be an attorney, all while providing assistance to increase their chances of acceptance to the University of Baltimore School of Law.

  
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The program is made of two parts. The first is the Baltimore Scholars Program. During this program, eight juniors or seniors are fully immersed in law school life. The program, which is called a “boot camp,” allows students to meet with attorneys, judges, and law firms during the winter semester. They will also complete law school assignments, giving them a taste of what law school classes are like.

Michael Meyerson, the director of the Fannie Angelos Program for Academic Excellence, said, “They just live as law students and really learn a couple things—one, that it’s a different culture, and two, that they belong.”

The second part of the program will provide grants for up to 80 students, including the eight Baltimore Scholars, that will cover nearly all costs of an LSAT preparation course. The prep course, offered by the Princeton Review, will only cost these students $100.

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Once the Baltimore Scholars Program is completed, students who are accepted with at least a 3.5 GPA and a 152 LSAT score receive a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Baltimore School of Law.

The program’s ultimate goal is to assist college students at HCBUs adjust to law student life, since their colleges do not offer preparatory courses. Attending law school can be especially overwhelming for students who may be the first in their families to become an attorney.



Michael Higginbotham, a professor at UB Law who also helps run the program, said, “We started to think about how we could emulate what I had—my experience—for these scholars, so we could give them the information I got from family members and friends and relatives, so they would have that same experience.”

Vernon Brownlee is a second-year law student at UB Law who participates in the program. During the first year, he met with other Baltimore Scholars and advisers who helped him keep up with his assignments. He was also able to land an internship with Maryland Legal Aid that summer that allowed him to experience public interest law. Brownlee is now considering representing low-income defendants as his career. “I realized they really need guidance and assistance in the legal arena and without it, it would be difficult for them to get what they need,” he explained.

Internships are an important part of law school because they offer real world experience to law students. Meyerson added that money raised at a gala on October 18 for the Fannie Angelos Program may help provide unpaid internships for students who may not otherwise be able to take them. A year ago, Peter G. Angelos, an attorney in Baltimore, donated a generous $1 million to fund the program. The money will be spread across a five year period in installments.

So far, over 40 students have been admitted to law schools, including UB Law as well as the University of Southern California. UB Law works directly with career services offices at the HBCUs to ensure that students are aware of their options with the program if they are considering law school. Meyerson said, “We’re not ‘reinventing the wheel,’ we’re inventing the program. There is no model.”

Meyerson did state that the program could be used as a model for other law schools or other programs in different disciplines, such as nursing or accounting.

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Photo credit: archdaily.com



 

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