Harvard Law Occupation Expands

Students studyingLaw Schools With First Generation Professional Student Clubs

Increasingly, students who are the first in their families to attend law school are doing just that. As a result, multiple schools have been adding student-run clubs for those students. A few years ago, the class of 2012 at Hofstra Law created the First Generation Law Students organization. Just last year Columbia University Law School established the First Generation Professionals group.
Now, the University of Southern California Gould School of Law has taken it a step further by creating an “administrated-guided” First Generation Professionals Program.
“It’s a way of establishing community,” Camille Gear Rich,professor of law and sociology and associate provost of student and faculty initiatives in the social sciences at Gould, told U.S. News, noting it was just launched in the fall of 2015. “It’s about understanding and appreciating where you come from.”
Currently, there are 37 students in the program and U.S. News reports they cover a wide range of “ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.” The program has held info sessions on topics ranging from doing public interest work to job interviews to how to explain non-professional jobs on a resume. Many students in these positions come from low income situations and have to work jobs at fast food restaurants, for example to simply make ends meet growing up, Rich explained.
Thai Viet Phan graduated from the Gould School and earned a master’s in public policy last December. Phan is one student who used the program and found it helpful as she was graduating and entering the job market. The daughter of non-English speaking parents, Phan told the U.S. News that she experienced multiple barriers many of her “affluent classmates” didn’t. Phan received mentorship and “good practical tips on how to succeed.”
First generation law students are obviously in the vast minority and it would be wise for those applicants to look at what potential schools are offering to assist them in law school and beyond. Another good idea is to look at the strength of the career services offices at potential schools. Career services departments that offer more of a personalized, hands-on approach could be more beneficial to first generation professional students.
Source: U.S. News

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