Widener University School of Law is pleased to announce it is launching a new initiative on its Harrisburg campus that is designed to introduce minority undergraduate students to the idea of law school and a legal career. The program comes at a time when leaders in the Pennsylvania legal community have been vocal about the need to improve minority participation in the legal profession. The American Bar Association has made diversity one of its key issues and, closer to home, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Board of Governors recently approved the creation of a diversity team and established plans to retain a diversity officer.
The two-week event, called the Jurist Academy
, is an immersion program that will run May 30 to June 10 on Widener’s Harrisburg campus. The goal is to spark an interest among minority undergraduates through an intimate experience that gets them thinking about a life in the law.
“Widener is proud to be advancing beyond the ‘talking’ phase of the need for a more diverse bar and bench, and to be moving into an ‘action’ phase where we can demonstrate leadership and our commitment to affect real change,” said Ammons
, one of only seven African-American women currently serving as dean of a U.S. law school
The Jurist Academy is being coordinated by Assistant Professor of Legal Methods Starla J. Williams
. She has begun promoting it to pre-law and career advisors at higher education institutions in central and western Pennsylvania, and in Maryland, although enrollment is not restricted to students from those areas. The school is planning for an inaugural Harrisburg-campus class of 10 students.
The program is an outgrowth of a Jurist Academy Widener began on its Wilmington, Del. campus in 2008. Nearly 80 junior- and senior-level undergraduates have attended that annual program, which will run over the same two-week period in 2011 as the new program in Harrisburg.
Participants attend several law classes created just for them in subjects like torts, criminal law and legal writing. The classes include a final exam, to expose the students to a law school-level exam. The program will also include field trips to courts and law firms and speakers on numerous topics such as balancing law school and life, the law school admissions process and more. A LSAT exam prep class is also included, culminating in an LSAT practice exam.
There is no cost to attend the Jurist Academy, but students are responsible for their own lodging. Meals are provided.
The application deadline is April 15. To obtain application materials, or learn more about the program, visit law.widener.edu/juristacademyhb