Bar Association Honors Program For Minority Youth Interested In Law Career
ABA DIVERSITY PIPELINE COUNCIL TO HONOR LEGAL OUTREACH OF NEW YORK CITY
FOR SUCCESS INSPIRING, EQUIPPING DIVERSE YOUTH FOR LEGAL CAREERS
CHICAGO, Jan. 5, 2010—Legal Outreach, a New York City program working to inspire students from diverse socioeconomic, ethnic and racial backgrounds to careers in the law, and infusing them with support and resources starting in the eighth grade, has been selected to receive the 2010 Alexander Award for Excellence in Pipeline Diversity from the American Bar Association Council on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline.
The award will be presented at a reception Feb. 5 at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Orlando, Fla., during the 2010 ABA Midyear Meeting. The award is named for Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, who together founded the first African-American law firm in Philadelphia. Raymond Alexander graduated from Harvard Law School in 1923, and Sadie Alexander graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1927.
Legal Outreach has worked in partnership with law firms, corporate legal departments, law schools, colleges and high schools for 26 years to ensure that the pipeline to the legal profession includes students from underserved areas of New York City. It selects 70 urban eighth graders each year, and begins intensive work with each of them starting the summer before they start high school and continuing through college and into law school. It partners with 42 law firms and financial firms, 20 public interest organizations, 20 judges and 162 lawyer mentors.
“Legal Outreach is an amazing success story. It proves that we can look to our youth from the most challenging corners of our cities to learn, to succeed and to move forward prepared to serve our communities,” said Ruthe C. Ashley, council chair.
Their first summer in the program, students participate in a 5-week legal-education program held on the campuses of Columbia, New York University, Fordham, Brooklyn and St. John’s law schools. They learn how the justice system works and begin to see it as a potential career path. During the past year, Legal Outreach launched Pathways to Achievement and Community Transformation, a summer institute initiative focused on African-American and Latino males and hosted at New York University School of Law, which increased the proportion of the freshman high school class to 50 percent for the first time. They enter a four-year College Bound program, through which they participate in an array of academic activities including study and life skills workshops, after-school study sessions and tutorials, Saturday writing classes, constitutional law debates, mock trials, preparation for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, guidance on college applications, legal internships and one-on-one mentoring by lawyers. The high school program incorporates social and cultural exposure outings that strengthen the bond between mentors and mentees, and offers parental workshops to bolster the capacity of parents to assist their children’s academic development and foster communication in the home. Additionally, Legal Outreach helps college students prepare for the Law School Admissions Test and the law school application process.
Among the results:
· 100 percent of College Bound graduates completed high school in four years, compared with 58 percent of all New York City high school students
· More than 99 percent of College Bound graduates entered four-year colleges, compared to 66 percent of students attending the same high schools as Legal Outreach participants
· 85 percent of College Bound graduates who enrolled in college graduated in four years
· 70 percent reported college grade point averages of 3.0 or higher
· 35 percent are seeking or have obtained graduate degrees
· 14 percent are pursuing or have obtained law degrees.
James O’Neal, founder of Legal Outreach, has licensed his curriculum to the Ohio Supreme Court, which is establishing a summer law institute program at eight Ohio law schools, and is helping to establish a similar organization in Newark, N.J., known as the New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Project, in partnership with Seton Hall Law School.
Legal Outreach opened a 24,000-square-foot educational facility this year, providing two study centers, two tutorial laboratories, four moot court rooms, writing workshop rooms, a library, an activity center and a computer laboratory, and plans to create a national pipeline diversity training center for law schools and others interested in adopting its approach.
The ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline (formerly the ABA Presidential Advisory Council on Diversity) works to increase the number of diverse students who are on track to becoming lawyers. The Pipeline Council acts as a think-tank and programmatic incubator for activities that foster a more diverse educational pipeline into the legal profession; and we provide the forum for key stakeholders to address particular issues and build networks for change in our educational systems and the legal profession.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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Contact: Nancy Cowger Slonim