American Bar Association Establishes Minority Scholarships
CHICAGO — American Bar Association officials announced last month that they will offer scholarships to encourage minority students to apply to law school and to assist them during their three years of study.
“We can best serve society if members of the legal profession come from all segments of the population, reflecting the diversity of the United States,” says the association’s president, William G. Paul. “Financial aid during law school must be a vital component of any effort to increase diversity in the profession.”
Diversity has been a focus of Paul’s eight-month tenure as president, and he says he is troubled by current statistics.
The number of minority law students and lawyers grew during the 1990s, but Paul says that the legal profession is more than 90 percent White while the general population of the United States is approximately 70 percent White. And, Paul adds, the disparity between the legal profession and the general population is expected to increase. During the next 50 years, the general population of the United States is projected to be about 50 percent non-White, but enrollment in American law schools may be less than 20 percent non-White.
To help pave the way for some minority students, the association will award the first of its Legal Opportunity Scholarships this fall. Officials say they expect to award at least 20 scholarships, and may add more as time goes on if funds become available. Students who qualify will receive $5,000 for each year of law school. The scholarships will be administered by the association’s Fund for Justice and Education.
Several million dollars should be eventually awarded, according to Fund for Justice and Education director Krista Kauper. The fund has more than a million dollars in scholarship money, with more than half coming from various contributions through the association’s 400,000 members. Private, corporate and foundation resources are also being sought to develop the partially endowed fund.
Scholarship recipients awarded $5,000 for their first year of law school must reapply for funds for their second and third years of school, Kauper says. But association officials expect to assist the scholarship recipients throughout law school.
Plans are in place for a predetermined percentage of the funds to be awarded each year for approximately 20 years. Association volunteers will be responsible for screening and selecting the recipients each year, so costs of administering the fund will be minimal, Kauper says.
Students interested in the ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarships should submit an application, including information about their education, community service and their need for financial assistance. Recipients are required to provide evidence of their acceptance at an ABA-accredited law school.
Those interested in contributing to the scholarship fund, or in receiving more information about it, may contact Krista Kauper, American Bar Association, Fund for Justice and Education, 750 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Ill. 60611. The phone number is (312) 988-5927.
— Eleanor Lee Yates
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