Curricula and Programs


First-Generation Students in Law School: A Proven Success Model

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date



first-generation college students, financial aid, law school diversity, pre-law diversity, Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), diversity pipeline programs, academic support programs


In Part II of this article, we identify first-generation students. We provide a working definition of this group of students and discuss the strengths and challenges they bring with them to higher education. We review efforts colleges and universities have taken to benefit first-generation students on their path to academic success at the undergraduate level. Finally, we summarize the findings of the only study done on the experiences of first-generation college students who matriculated to law school. Part III of this article focuses on a unique program of academic success implemented at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. We describe the Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law (TIP) program, its goals, and its functions.

Relying on data collected since 2012, we reveal the academic outcomes for first-generation college students who have enrolled in the TIP program, including the completion of the program, admission to law school, outperformance of admission index scores,14 graduation rate, and bar passage rate. We explain the reasons the TIP program is so successful in helping firstgeneration college students succeed in law school. Finally, in Part IV of this article, we conclude that the TIP program should be replicated at law schools throughout the country as the number of first-generation college students pursuing law degrees rises.