Diversity Scholar Program Strengthens Under-Represented Voices in Law

Despite better representation among summer associate classes, the legal profession remains one of the least diverse in the country. PracticePro’s Diversity Scholar Program — a training, coaching, and recruiting program for first-year law students (1Ls) — aims to change that.

Applications for the Diversity Scholar Program are being accepted from students enrolled at ABA-accredited schools nationwide until Jan. 20, 2018.

One hurdle for diversity in law is that many law students from under-represented groups are trail blazers in their families: they may be the first in their family to attend college. They may not have a network that can provide advice and the necessary support to strategically build their resume, navigate the complex hiring process, or thrive in a professional and competitive environment.

Baltazar Salazar knows first-hand how the Diversity Scholar Program can help close that gap. Admitted to the Program in 2015, Salazar is a Mexican-American first-generation college graduate, a disabled two-tour veteran, and a father of two. Figuring out how to balance school and family was just part of the challenge. He graduated from TSU Thurgood Marshall School of Law in May and credits PracticePro with helping him get the position he wanted: a federal clerkship.

“The Diversity Scholar Program gave me a realistic look at my position and strategic opportunities to get me where I wanted to go,” he said. “I learned how to structure my time and focus my efforts. I was able to identify specific opportunities that strengthened my resume. That helped me better manage classes, grades, and internships while still being there for my family.”

Through the Program, students like Salazar can access numerous resources, such as:

  • Career Conferences in Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
  • Career coaching
  • Recruitment opportunities with Program partners
  • New attorney training
  • Post-graduation mentoring

These initiatives are made possible by support from partnerships with leading law firms and companies across the country—partners that invest not just funds but other resources to support the Diversity Scholars.

Haynes and Boone, LLP is PracticePro’s first Diversity Founder, underscoring their involvement since the Program’s inception in 2014. In addition to funding scholarships, hosting conferences, and providing nationwide support to the Diversity Scholars, Diversity Founders collaborate with PracticePro to launch its new diversity initiatives, including a new associate mentoring program with corporate legal departments and a pre-law conference for incoming 1Ls in 2018.

Brian Kwok, a partner with the firm, says lack of representation in law puts everyone at a disadvantage. “Businesses want innovative and creative teams, and the best team made of the best people is a diverse group of attorneys — period,” he said. “People recognize that nobody benefits from a cookie cutter version of the same attorney, so we also need to acknowledge that there are different ways to think about and approach the law. That takes people of different genders, backgrounds, and cultures.”

Kwok says law students need a bridge between school and practice, something that can be particularly hard to find for diverse students who are carving their own paths. “Law school gives you the theory and conceptual frameworks. But it doesn’t teach you how to be a lawyer,” Kwok said. “If you’re going to have a successful career, you need professional relationships to draw on and learn from. PracticePro’s Diversity Scholar Program equips diverse students with practical skills — but more than that, it helps create a foundation for a valuable network that each of them can rely on.”

Salazar agrees, noting that through his participation in the Program, he connected with Texas-based firm and Program sponsor Jackson Walker, which gave him the confidence and access to opportunities that led to where he is now. “It opened doors that wouldn’t have been open to me otherwise,” he said.

Early Program sponsors this scholarship cycle include:

  • Corporate Sponsors: Google; VMware
  • Diversity Founder: Haynes and Boone
  • Diversity Leaders: Latham & Watkins; WilmerHale
  • Diversity Champion: Crowell & Moring
  • Diversity Benefactors: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Cooley, Ferrari & Associates; Jackson Walker; McDermott Will & Emery; O’Melveny & Meyers; Ropes & Gray; Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

PracticePro is a legal education startup, striving to change how new lawyers learn to practice law. For information about the Diversity Scholar Program, visit http://www.practicepro.cc/1l-diversity-scholars-program, email [email protected], or call 415-237-3703. 

Source via PR Newswire

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