In the last article about diversity in the law, I discussed the need for diversity within the legal field. Here, I will discuss diversity efforts I have come across through law school.
Diversity fellowships, internships, and scholarships recognize the need for diversity in the legal field by providing equitable platforms for law students. I had no contact with the legal field prior to law school beyond what I learned in the undergraduate pre-law programs, and I was unfamiliar with how law school operated. The three programs discussed below showed me the importance of specific opportunities for diverse students.
Sacramento Bar Association Diversity Fellowship
During my first year, I learned about the Sacramento Bar Association 1L Diversity Fellowship. It encourages diverse law students to apply to firms and promote diversity in the legal field. Diverse students have an opportunity to apply to the fellowship, and if selected are matched with a Sacramento-area private law firm or organization. The program guarantees an interview for each applicant, which allows first-year students to practice interview skills for future opportunities. Further it shows students various firms’ commitment to diversity and inclusion. The program provides an equitable pipeline for diverse students pursuing legal careers in private firms.
McGeorge Diverse Bar Support Stipend
This past year, I worked on the McGeorge BAR Prep Fund through my position in the McGeorge Unity Caucus. Its goal is to advance diversity by providing financial support to diverse students. A recent Bloomberg article discussed racial differences in Bar Exam passage rates: “By comparison, Whites passed at a rate of 85% in 2019, compared with 74% of Asians, 72% of Native Americans, 69% of Hispanics, and 61% of Blacks.” The fund aims to increase these rates for diverse students.
It recognizes the adverse circumstances that can negatively impact diverse students and decrease passage rates. Through financial assistance, students have one less thing to worry about in this critical time in their law careers.
Just the Beginning Summer Judicial Internship Diversity Project
For my 2L summer, I applied and got accepted for Just the Beginning’s Summer Judicial Internship Diversity Project. The program connects diverse students with judicial internships across the nation. The program’s goal is to create a pipeline for students to pursue judicial externships, clerkships, and eventually, judicial positions. By providing tools, resources, and networks, Just the Beginning aims to diversify the judiciary.
The program began with an assignment to watch a video about what a judicial externship entails and a writing assignment to help students prepare for the externship. This was extremely valuable information because it guided me on what to expect with a judicial externship and practice my writing skills. Additionally, we are invited to seminars discussing a variety of legal topics and advice on how to pursue a career in the judiciary. The program provided guidance throughout my externship.
Finding these opportunities made me feel supported through my law school journey. It aims to diversify the legal field by providing students with tools and equitable resources to excel in their legal career.