Law School's Summer Pipeline Program Marks Another Successful Year
Lawyers are in a unique position to confront and redress society’s most pressing issues. Jeffery Robinson, a deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union and the director of the ACLU Center for Justice, shared this call to action with students in this year’s Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program for College Students.
The Ron Brown Prep Program students had come together earlier this month for a closing ceremony celebrating their success in the flagship pipeline program of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights. After listening to inspiring remarks from Derek Sells, a managing partner at The Cochran Firm and a noted trial attorney, the students joined Robinson for a multi-media exploration of this rare moment of opportunity in the fight for equality and justice.
Robinson’s powerful message was captured in words and images—from Pink Floyd lyrics, to statistics about the intersection of race and drug use, drug arrests, and prison terms, to an amazing video showing of water buffalo successfully fighting off a group of lions. “Jeffery made it clear to our students that they could make a real difference in the world,” says Professor Elaine M. Chiu, who directs the Ron Brown Center and its Prep Program with assistant director Professor Rosa Castello '06. “His parents achieved the right as black Americans to sit alongside white Americans, and now he’s calling on our Prep Program students, as future attorneys, to achieve equality on even more profound and deep levels.”
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Serving the ends of equality and justice is at the heart of the Prep Program’s mission. For over a decade, the program has helped students from traditionally underserved groups—who are often the first in their families to attend college—apply to law school and pursue legal careers. And, through the years, the program has grown and thrived in partnership with a number of colleges and universities across the country.
The students who attend the selective, eight-week Prep Program I take law school courses taught by St. John’s faculty and intern with judges and lawyers in many fields of law. Students in Prep Program II take a comprehensive customized LSAT prep course provided by Kaplan Test Prep, attend motivational workshops, and work on their personal and diversity statements.
“The Prep Program is phenomenally comprehensive and covers every aspect of the law school admissions processes in detail,” says 2016 program participant Ricardo Garcia. “Everyone involved is deeply committed to our success, and that commitment itself has produced a top tier law school prep program for aspiring minority law school applicants.”
The Prep Program is an unequivocal success story. “We’re very proud of the depth and breadth of the program’s impact,” Professor Chiu says. “Twenty Prep Program alumni are starting as first year law students this month at law schools all over the country. Over 120 alumni have gone on to 54 different law schools nationwide, including Cornell, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, St. John's, University of Buffalo, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, UCLA, University of Florida, University of Michigan, and Yale. Together they’ve earned millions of dollars in law school scholarships.”
Reflecting on the closing ceremony, and on the challenges of race in the legal profession, 2016 program participant Mohammed Jagana says, “It’s essential that we begin to develop innovative ways to address these issues, instead of just dwelling on the fact that they’re prevalent. That's exactly what Jeffery Robinson encouraged us to do—to think of ways we, as future lawyers and workers in the legal industry, can begin to create a more inclusive and just society.”