Addressing the Lack of Diversity in the Legal Profession, At the Undergraduate Level
diversity pathway programs, pre-law advising
The study and practice of law is among the most respected and well-regarded pursuits; unfortunately, it is also among the least diverse. The persistent and alarming lack of diversity is prevalent in the industry regardless of the culture. In the United States and in Europe, statistics show that lawyers are overwhelmingly comprised by white males, especially in the higher ranks of the profession. Several factors contribute to this lack of diversity, including access to legal professionals and costs associated with pursuing a legal degree. Several strategies have been initiated to increase diversity in the field, including increasing awareness of the issue in the legal world and actively recruiting diverse populations, yet the lack of diversity persists. This paper will review some of the factors that contribute to the lack of diversity in the legal profession and strategies considered to increase diversity, and ultimately highlight a program that initiated one such strategy – a pre-law program developed to increase knowledge of the legal profession, access to legal professionals, and financial and academic support for the pursuit of a legal career for undergraduate students. The remainder of this paper will outline specifics of the pre-law program, including its student demographics that include over 60 students with very diverse backgrounds, its law-related activities/programming that include presentatons from law students and professions, law school visits, and workshops on applying for law school and writing personal statements, and its achieved outcomes since its inception in 2009 that include formative partnerships with regional law schools and legal organizations, student scholarships, and graduated attorneys.