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PLUS: Law School launches diversity initiative

Students who participated in the summer PLUS program in 2011.
Students who participated in the summer PLUS program in 2011.

“Right now, the legal profession does not reflect the expanding diversity of our society,” said Debbie Brooks, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Multicultural Affairs–UMKC School of Law.

This is the belief that spawned The Pre Law School Undergraduate Program. That is also the reason why the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) established the DiscoverLaw.org campaign.

“The Pre Law Scholars Undergraduate (PLUS) program is part of this campaign targeted to racial, ethnic and other underrepresented students,” Brooks said. The goal of that program is to help students cultivate the skills they will need in law school.

The program is open for undergraduate students in their first and second years of college. “Discovering law early in their career exploration makes it easier to choose a path that will lead them to a law degree,” said Brooks.

Twenty scholars are accepted to participate in the program every summer. The application and supporting materials are due March 1.

“Scholars who participate in the PLUS Summer Institute are introduced to the academic and social environment of law school as well as the legal community including courts of law,” Brooks said. “Therefore, if a student is thinking about attending law school but remains undecided or uncertain about their ability to meet the academic rigors of law school, PLUS can provide motivation and guidance.”

UMKC was carefully chosen to have one of only nine national PLUS programs by LSAC; both an honor and a testament to UMKC’s commitment to furthering the school’s diversity.

“Participation in the PLUS program is another aspect of fulfilling UMKC’s mission whichis includes developing a professional workforce and collaborating in urban issues and education; and to create a vibrant learning and campus life experience,” Brooks said.

The first institution of the PLUS program was held last year in over the summer semester. The program is a four-week-long residential program on weekdays. Through this program, “students gained a first-hand look at the legal profession on the UMKC campus,” according to a press release.

The program includes classes and workshops hosted by alumni of the law school and lawyers in the community around UMKC, that cover important topics such as the LSAT, admissions to law school, and how to write a strong résumé. At the end of the program students are placed in internships in Kansas City, usually in legal or business offices.

According to the press release, the students who participated, “gained exposure to the professional world and received mentoring from community leaders.” Participants are also given a summer stipend and receive three college credits when they complete the program.

Brooks said she was drawn to the program because, “It allows us to become involved earlier in prospective students› lives and provide motivation for life beyond post-undergraduate education.”

The PLUS program is part of a diversity initiative at UMKC’s School of Law.

“PLUS increases the likelihood that students who are traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession will apply to, be admitted to, and enroll in law school,” Brooks said.

Interested applicants should visit: www.law.umkc.edu/prospective-students/discover.asp for additional information and to download an application form.

The diversity initiative at the School of Law also offers the Diversity Pipeline Scholarship

The Asian Pacific Islander, Black, and Hispanic Law Students Associations, also known as APILSA, BLSA and HLSA joined forces to create the scholarship. It helps to provide financial aid to high school students, undergraduate college students, and first-year law students who are pursuing a career in the law field. To learn more about this opportunity, visit www.law.umkc.edu/prospective-students/scholarships.asp

ladams@unews.com

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