Grant to aid future lawyers
With the help of more than $100,000 in grants, the UH Prelaw Program Initiative intends to help prepare underrepresented minorities and first-generation law students for the rigors of law school.
UH law professor Michael Olivas said the UH Prelaw Program Initiative aims to provide students from an array of backgrounds – from the economically disadvantaged to students interested in serving underprivileged populations during their legal careers – easier access to law school.
"If your mother was an attorney, you already have many advantages, and this program tries to provide support for persons who are not advantaged, but who have all the right stuff to become law students and eventually become lawyers," Olivas said.
The program received an $83,374 grant from TG, a Texas-based non-profit organization that provides student loan guarantees for higher education, and a $20,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation.
The UH Prelaw Program Initiative is a month-long summer immersion course that prepares students for law school with Saturday prelaw academies and law school application assistance.
With the grant money from the Texas Bar Foundation and TG, students will leave not only with the knowledge and credit hours, but a $1,000 stipend as well.
Thirty-five sophomores are expected to gain admittance to the course, and many will be the first of their family to attend law school. These students come from rural or inner-city areas and have expressed a need for using their degree to better these underrepresented populations.
Anne Yeakel, the executive director of the Texas Bar Foundation, said she was excited about the prospect of helping these students reach their goals.
"We are pleased to be able to support the University of Houston’s Prelaw Initiative," Yeakel said. "We believe the program will help to increase the diversity of the legal profession in Texas."
The UH Prelaw Program Initiative was one of 53 nonprofit organizations that received TG grants totaling more than $5.6 million for projects in 2008-2009.
June 2009, which marks the third year of the program, is the first year sophomores will be admitted.
Olivas, who said the program is a big step for students with a maximum of 30 hours, said he is confident in their success at the University and after graduation.
"I believe all of them will find a good law school if they are diligent about applying and preparing for the LSAT," Olivas said.
Some students have already been admitted, but there are still open positions available for those who meet the criteria.
For more information about the UH Prelaw Program Initiative or to access an online application, visit www.prelawprograms.uh.edu. The deadline for the Summer 2009 term is March 30, 2009.