Tulane Law School is one of four law schools nationwide awarded a $100,000 grant to launch a new prelaw pipeline program for minority college students planning to attend law school.
The competitive LSAC Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program grants are awarded annually by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) to a select number of law schools around the U.S. that provide aspiring law students from underrepresented groups a full immersive experience to prepare them for success in law school.
Tulane’s nine-month program will target diverse undergraduates in the New Orleans area and beyond who are about a year away from applying to law school; they will meet both online and on campus.
Students in Tulane’s program will receive support in the law school application process, professional development and one-on-one mentorship with attorneys and law students working with the program. They will get support in improving their writing and communications skills and networking opportunities as well as primers on the U.S. legal system and navigating law school. Participating students will finish the program with an application package as well as a sense of confidence about a future legal career.
Tulane appealed to LSAC in its grant application to consider the significant impact New Orleans students have faced in the wake of a pandemic, racial disparities, and disasters that all affected the city in a span of 18 months.
“The racial disparities of the pandemic may even be more painful when we consider that the pandemic was silently ravaging the Black community during Mardi Gras... Adding insult to injury, systemic racism and disease were compounded by one of the most intense hurricane and storm seasons in recent memory.
"We believe New Orleans prelaw students have a lot of stories to tell, but also a lot of tough memories to process," the law school wrote in its grant application. "We would like to create an opportunity for participants to not only become strong candidates for admission to law school, but also to talk about ways in which they can build on the lessons they’ve learned about themselves over the past few years.”
The LSAC PLUS Program specifically addresses the challenges faced by underrepresented students on the path to law school and the legal profession, offering selected participants a window into what law school is really like while providing supportive insights about the law school enrollment journey.
This year, Tulane joins Boston University School of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law and Seattle University School of Law in receiving grants to fund their own 2022 LSAC PLUS Programs.
The LSAC PLUS Program at Tulane Law joins a number of other initiatives by Tulane Law in recent years to support diverse students, particularly those in the New Orleans community, and recruit them to the law profession where their numbers remain chronically low.
“We’re thrilled to be able to partner with LSAC in building this important new support pipeline for young New Orleanians and others interested in careers in the law,” said Dean David Meyer. “This program will bolster efforts to strengthen and diversify the legal profession, broaden economic and educational opportunity in New Orleans, and add to Tulane Law’s expanding efforts to advance racial equity and equal opportunity.”
The law school has established scholarships for diverse students and participates in extensive recruitment of underrepresented students across the nation. It also has dedicated resources specifically supporting students in everything from interview programs to public interest summer grants to alumni mentorship. Each year, Tulane hosts or participates in the Louis A. Martinet Society’s Pathways and Pipelines program which exposes students of color to legal practitioners, including judges, prosecutors, litigators and those working in the nonprofit field.
Through Tulane’s Sports Law Program and its partnership with the MLB Urban Youth Academy, young people from the New Orleans community each summer get on-field baseball and softball training, alongside exposure to the myriad of possible professional careers off the field, including the law.
Additionally, the law school has long-standing public interest skills training programs through eight legal clinics that not only help the most vulnerable in the community but also teach students to be advocates for social justice and equity.
For all of these efforts, Tulane this summer received the Guardian of Diversity Award, given by the Louisiana State Bar Association to an organization that has made exemplary contributions to the cause of diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession.