Law School Addresses Diversity With New Program
Fordham Law School has announced a new program that it hopes will promote opportunity and diversity within the legal profession.
The Fordham Legal Education and Access Program (LEAP) combines legal skills development with experiential opportunities. The goal of the program is to expose underrepresented students from Fordham and other institutions to key aspects of law, legal institutions, and legal practice at the local, state, and national levels, according to a press release by Fordham Law.
“We have created an intensive learning experience aimed at opening the door to legal education and the legal profession for students who otherwise would be locked out,” says Professor Kimani Paul-Emile, who previously chaired the Law School’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Fordham Law School, in the press release. “The goal is to diversify Fordham Law School and the broader legal community.”
LEAP students spend three summers and two academic years in the program, where they will focus on legal skills development, legal writing training, and connecting with professionals in the legal profession.
The first summer consists of legal courses in core areas such as property and contracts. In the following summers, LEAP students partake in internships with non-profit organizations, government-based institutions, or private law firms.
The first cohort of LEAP students made their debut this past week by participating in Fordham’s Pre-Law Institute, a summer program that exposes students to the rigors of law school.
REACHING A WIDER STUDENT BASE
This year’s debut cohort of LEAP students consists of ten students from eight different New York colleges.
According to Fordham, the majority of the cohort is first-generation college students who represent a range of racial, economic, and religious-based diversity.
Professor Robin Lenhardt, current chair of diversity and inclusion and faculty director of the Center on Race, Law and Justice, says the program aims to address the lack of diversity in the legal profession.
“The legal profession continues to suffer from a severe lack of diversity, and many students who would make great lawyers continue to encounter many obstacles that block their paths to a legal career,” Lenhardt says in the press release. “This program will hopefully open a pipeline funneling strong, diverse students into law for years to come.”