Preparing Minority Students for Law School: The Program for Minority Access to Law School
Law Review Article
diversity pipeline programs, student attrition rates
Students of color traditionally have been under-represented in law school admissions, and those admitted have higher attrition rates than their white counterparts. In response to these concerns, law schools have instituted a number of programs in recent years designed to increase minority enrollments and retention rates. Most of these programs target minority students immediately before or during their time in law school. Receiving less attention have been programs designed to provide instruction and motivation to minority undergraduates interested in law early in their college careers. In 1991, the law schools at Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois, and Southern Illinois University co-sponsored a pilot instructional program for minority undergraduate students. Entitled the Program for Minority Access to Law School (PMALS), the project involved six weeks of on-campus instruction at Northern Illinois University from June 17 to July 26, 1991. The primary goals of the program were to stimulate interest in the legal profession and to enhance the analytical and writing skills necessary to success in law school, thereby increasing the pool of qualified minority law applicants. This article will describe the purpose, structure, and evaluation of the pilot PMALS program. Part I will discuss the background and goals of the program. Part II will discuss the program's structure, including student recruitment and curricular design. Part III will discuss the evaluation of the program. Finally, the conclusion will discuss the role that programs such as PMALS might play in the minority recruitment and retention process.