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University of Georgia Law School Introduces Program to Promote Diversity
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Justice Robert Benham

Summary: The University of Georgia School of Law created the Benham Scholars Program to put an emphasis on diversity in the state’s legal industry.

In an effort to promote diversity in Georgia’s legal industry, the University of Georgia School of Law announced their Benham Scholars Program. The program, named after Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, received funding from UGA President Jere Morehead’s initiative New Approaches in Diversity and Inclusion. The goal of the program is to reach out to those, particularly from rural areas, who think law school is out of their reach.

  
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Benham was the second black student to graduate from UGA School of Law in 1970. Benham was also the first black man appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court. He told the school’s newspaper The Red & Black, “If this program can help even a fraction of them attend law school and have the chance for a successful legal career, we will have made an impact. I am of course honored by this incredible recognition and look forward to watching this new program change young lives.”

During the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast on January 12, President Morehead discussed the ways UGA is promoting diversity on campus, which included this new program. He said at the event, “The mission of the Benham Scholars will be to address legally underserved communities across the state of Georgia. I am very proud of these latest efforts, but I am also proud of ongoing efforts.”

The press release from the school states that private donations from the Office of the President with a match from private law school donations will help support the program. The focus on the program will be on recruitment, law school preparation, career planning and academic support. The first scholars will be admitted for the 2018-2019 school year. The hope is to have a class of six Benham Scholars, according to the law school’s dean.

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UGA School of Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge said, “One of our goals as an institution of legal education is to ensure our student body, and ultimately the new lawyers who enter the profession, is reflective of today’s society. Through the Benham Scholars Program, we hope to give these young men and women the opportunity to thrive both in law school and in their careers.”

Greg Roseboro, UGA Law’s executive director for admissions, noted that he sees students across the state at the colleges and universities he visits that have the potential but lack the resources and information to prepare for the LSAT and apply for law school. This program will help these students that think UGA Law is beyond their reach. He said, “This will allow us to reach out to underrepresented institutions to talk to their advisers about what we have available to support them.”



Some of the schools Roseboro mentioned include Fort Valley State University in Macon and Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus. The advisers at the schools were “very candid with” Roseboro “that part of their challenge is getting students prepared early on [to apply to law school] and understand that it is a realistic option for them.”

The law school also announced the appointment of Mehrsa Baradaran as the new associate dean for strategic initiatives. Baradaran will be the faculty liaison for diversity and inclusion issues.

Do you think law school is something people from rural areas want to pursue? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about UGA’s law school, read these articles:

Photo: dailyreportonline.com



 

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