UNCF Launches New Jersey Law Scholars Program
Over the next three years, nine students from historically Black colleges will get full scholarships to New Jersey law schools through a donation from a Lucent corporate executive and his wife.
The United Negro College Fund’s New Jersey Law Scholars Program is the first of its kind in the nation and is part of a national effort to increase diversity in the legal profession.
The program, announced last month, is being funded by Richard and Lois Rawson. Rawson, senior vice president and general counsel of Lucent Technologies Inc., is a 1977 graduate of Rutgers School of Law-Newark. The scholarships will be for students entering Rutgers-Newark, Rutgers School of Law-Camden or Seton Hall University School of Law.
The inauguration of the program will take place during the fall 2001 semester, with the first scholarships awarded before the beginning of the 2002-2003 academic year. The schools will apply their own admissions standards, and each will select one recipient for the classes entering in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
The three-year scholarships will be awarded to HBCU graduates who demonstrate not only superior academic achievement, but also leadership attributes. Those students selected will be expected to maintain good academic standing and to demonstrate continued commitment to academic and professional achievement.
UNCF president William H. Gray III, speaking at the Newark law school, said the gift is worth more than $600,000 and will help minorities overcome the “biggest barrier” to law school — money.
“There are many young people for whom the dream of higher education does not stop with college,” says Gray. “The New Jersey Law Scholars Program means that students attending UNCF schools who dare to set goals of becoming lawyers one day have another resource available to them to help achieve those goals.”
Gray also indicated his hope that this initial effort in New Jersey will lead to similar endeavors in other states throughout the country.
The New Jersey schools rank above the 20 percent national average in minority law enrollment: of the 713 students at Rutgers-Newark, some 40 percent are minorities, as are 30 percent of 764 law students at Rutgers-Camden, and 25 percent of the 825 at Seton Hall’s law school.
Nationally, minority applications to law schools are decreasing. About 87 percent of lawyers are White, and 5 percent are Black, although Blacks comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population.
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