Law Students

Law Schools Target First-Generation Applicants with Special Programs
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Summary: A number of law schools have their own programs to encourage and support first-generation graduate applicants.

Law school is a big, complicated process that first-generation applicants have to learn to maneuver on their own. First-generation students don’t have a parents’ advice to guide them through tough decisions or to provide tips on how to prep for the LSAT.


Law schools encourage future applicants of various backgrounds to apply so that there are diverse voices upholding justice and equality. In order to get that diversity, students from underrepresented or marginalized communities have to be present in the legal world. Often these students are the first in their family to receive a high school diploma, let alone a college degree, so this makes for a very daunting prospect, according to U.S. News.

While law schools offer great scholarships to students that have come from tough backgrounds, that isn’t always enough. Luckily, many law schools acknowledge the challenges first-generation graduate students face. These schools have designed programs to support first-generation applicants pursuing graduate degrees.

The University of Southern California Gould School of Law has a program called First Generation Professionals that provides peer mentorship, networking opportunities and seminars on topics like “Debt and the First Generation Professional” and “Working Identity: Name Changes, Cultural Challenges and Other Assimilation Pressures.”

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The program at Yale Law School petitioned the admissions department “for more outreach to and data gathering on FGP students.” While there is not an actual portion of the application that addresses if an applicant is a first-generation student, they can address their background in their personal statement or the 250-word essay that Yale requires.

New York University School of Law attracts first-generation graduate or professional students by allowing them the ability to earn full-tuition funding through the AnBryce Scholarship Program. All the students have to do is write a one-page essay and include it in their application to the law school.

Some of the other programs focus on the specific challenges applicants will face such as being the first in their family to earn a college degree. The University of California – Berkeley School of Law’s program believes “individuals who are the first in their families to earn a college degree bring an important perspective.” Their Opportunity Scholarship gives financial support for tuition and fees. Applicants only have to express their interest in the main application to be considered for the scholarship plus complete a supplemental essay explaining why their experiences make them a strong candidate for the scholarship.

Do you think first-generation students should be given preference? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about applying for law school, read these articles:



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