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Law School Programs Aimed to Attract First-Generation Applicants

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 21, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

That first year of law school is a bit -- what's the word?

"Daunting," yeah that's it. When you come from a different background, sometimes it's hard to find the right word.

That's why some law schools offer programs for first-generation law students. The programs are designed to bring diversity to the legal profession.

First Generation

It is more than scholarships or help paying for law school. It's students who come from underrepresented, marginalized, or "tough" communities where lawyers are scarce.

"Often these students are the first in their family to receive a high school diploma, let alone a college degree, so this makes for a very daunting prospect," according to JD Journal.

Law schools at the University of Southern California, University of California, New York University, and Yale all offer programs for first generation students. USC, for example, offers peer mentorship, networking opportunities, and seminars.

"Working Identity: Name Changes, Cultural Challenges and Other Assimilation Pressures," and "Debt and the First Generation Professional" are seminars designed specifically for first- generation law students there.

Distinguished Applicants

Michelle Kim Hall knows the challenges first-hand. She counsels students and writes about law school admissions for U.S. News.

She said one law school applicant came from parents who dropped out of high school. Her father went to prison, but she distinguished herself in her application.

"Her ability to excel academically and professionally in spite of these disadvantages distinguished her from other applicants," Hall wrote. "She earned admission to a top-five law school."

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