January 04, 2011
Over the last 10 years, the percentage of African American and
Latino/a students enrolled in law school has declined. This
statistic illustrates the need for student pipeline initiatives
Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development
met by launching its Prep Program for Students five years
The Prep Program’s goal is to increase participation of
first-generation, low-income students from underrepresented groups
in law schools by identifying them in their college years and
giving them early exposure to the study of law. Through courses
taught by law school faculty, internships with judges and lawyers
in various practice settings, and a comprehensive LSAT prep course,
sophomore and junior participants in the nine-week summer program
get an edge in the law school admissions process.
Although the summer curriculum is a cornerstone of the Prep
Program, students receive support throughout the year from attorney
mentors from AXA Equitable Legal Department, Hughes Hubbard &
Reed LLP, Paul Hastings LLP, and members of the RHB Center Steering
Committee. They also have the opportunity to participate in
RHB Center programs and events, like the recent annual Diversity
Day and Admissions Fair.
This year marked the well-attended event’s second anniversary.
Prep Program students heard from a panel of experts on the state of
diversity in the legal profession. Moderated by Alet Brown ’13, a
St. John’s Law School student and Prep Program graduate, the panel
Leonard M. Baynes, Prep Program Director, Director of the
Ronald H. Brown Center and Professor of Law at St. John’s ; Robert
V. Ward, Jr., Dean and Professor of Law at University of
Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth; John Nussbaumer ,
Associate Dean and Professor of Law at Thomas M. Cooley Law
School; and Melinda S. Molina-Malloy, Assistant professor of
Law at Capital University Law.
After Congressman Charles B. Rangel’s keynote talk on the
importance of perseverance in achieving goals, a panel of
admissions professionals gave advice on what makes a great law
school application. The last panel of the day consisted of Prep
Program alumni Yesenia Francisco (Benjamin Cardozo School of Law);
Eunice Gedeon (Ave Maria School of Law); Shintaro Kitayama (St.
John’s School of Law); Megan Meighan (Hofstra School of Law); and
Andrew Saintanasse (St. John’s School of Law). Moderated by
Janai S. Nelson, Assistant Director of the RHB Center and
Associate Professor of Law at St. John’s, the students talked
about their experiences in and outside the classroom, their
strategies for success, and how they overcame obstacles on their
path to law school. To round out the day’s agenda, representatives
from 25 law schools met with the attendees and conducted 10-minute
speed interviews with the Prep Program’s college juniors.
"The day was an overwhelming success,” said Professor Baynes.
“The morning panels made clear the under-representation that still
exists in the law and gave the audience inspiration and tools to
help fix the problem. The afternoon gave Prep Program juniors an
unprecedented chance to have one-on-one interviews. By maximizing
these activities and efforts, we can more dramatically increase the
amount of students from underrepresented backgrounds in the legal
Established in 1999 in memory of Ronald H. Brown ’70, who paved
the way for African Americans in government service and the law,
the RHB Center aims to engage in legal studies, research and
outreach focusing on issues that affect the lives of
underrepresented people, increase the racial and socioeconomic
diversity of the legal profession, and educate law students to be
leaders on issues of racial, economic and social justice. The
Center sponsors several path-breaking and successful pipeline
initiatives designed to increase the pool of students of color
going to law school, lawyers of color entering legal academia, and
lawyers of color interested in higher education administration.
For more information about the Ronald H. Brown Prep Program for
College Students and other initiatives of the Ronald H. Brown
Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s
School of Law contact email@example.com.