A new program at the West Virginia University College of Law hopes to inspire students who may think a professional degree is out of reach, while at the same time find lawyers to help in some of the state’s underserved communities.
The expense-paid Summer Law Institute consists of a one-week immersion course at the College of Law in each of two summers, followed by a one-week internship in a law office. Grants provided by WVU Extended Learning for Summer On-Campus programs make it possible to provide full scholarships to selected students.
“To prepare a future generation of lawyers that will reflect the demographics of the American communities in which they will practice law, the College of Law seeks talented minority students who have an interest in practicing law,” says Grace Wigal, director of the College’s Academic Excellence Program.
The Institute’s first session kicks off June 6 with 25 students for a week-long immersion course focusing on the legal system, the work that lawyers do, how to read and use legal authority, skills, leadership and professionalism. The week includes several planned evening activities, as well as an opportunity to participate in an advocacy competition.
During the second week, participants will work in a law office as a legal intern.
The Institute will continue next year as up to 20 of the students who attended the 2010 Institute will be invited back for a second phase. Participants will be selected based on the quality of their performance in the first summer experience and their continuing desire to enter the legal profession.
In this second phase, participants will focus on preparing for the Law School Admission Test and the law school admission process. The instructional week will again be followed by a week of internship.
The Institute solicited nominations from colleges and universities throughout the state seeking talented students from West Virginia who are first-generation college students, or whose socio-economic status is likely to be a barrier to a professional degree. Additionally, this pipeline program is directed toward finding strong minority candidates in West Virginia undergraduate schools, regardless of their official state of residence.
The Institute relies on undergraduate professors in West Virginia schools to nominate students who have completed their sophomore year and have demonstrated interest in the legal profession, academic success, willingness to work hard to achieve goals and ability to become a lawyer.
CONTACT: Brian Caudill, College of Law
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