Many law schools are actively seeking first-generation graduate students.
Michelle Kim Hall, a contributor for U.S. News & World Report, recently reported that prospective first-generation grad students should seek law schools that support first-generation applicants.
“Prospective lawyers who will become the first in their families to practice law face a unique set of challenges in assimilating to graduate life and strategizing their professional development,” Hall writes. “Fortunately, law schools recognize that not all applicants come from an illustrious family of lawyers. Several schools have programs designed to support applicants who are the first in their families to pursue graduate degrees.”
USC’s Gould School of Law
At USC’s Gould School of Law, the First Generation Professionals program aims to support first-generation students, as well as students who are from working-class or lower-income backgrounds, according to USC’s website.
Through the program, first-generation students can gain access to peer mentorship, seminar series focused on the unique issues and challenges facing FGP law students. Even more, the school offers a rich assortment of networking opportunities, including study groups and student sponsorship.
Shirlene Armstrong is a first-year law student at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. In a blog post for The Girl’s Guide to Law School, Armstrong says networking is everything when it comes to building connections and a support system.
“Finding people who have gone through similar experiences already will assist you in getting through the challenges of law school and being a first gen,” Armstrong writes. “You will gain ample amounts of useful advice to help you be successful.”
Scholarships for First-Generation Law Students
A number of law schools also offer scholarships for first-generation law students.
At New York University School of Law, first-generation law students can apply to the AnBryce Scholarship Program – a full tuition scholarship for first-generation law students at NYU. To apply, applicants must submit a one-page essay that “describes how you have embodied the attributes of an AnBryce Scholar in overcoming personal obstacles, and how a legal education will enable you to promote the program’s ideals in your career,” according to NYU’s website.
At UC Berkeley School of Law, the Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship is available to first-generation college graduates pursuing a professional degree.
“We believe that individuals who are the first in their families to earn a college degree bring an important perspective, shaped by their personal experiences, to any setting—from the classroom to the board room,” Berkeley’s website reads.
There is a lot of pressure and hardship for students who are the first in their family to pursue a graduate education. For first-generation law students, it’s important to seek out resources that make their law journey more accessible.