Preparing HBCU students for law school
ZENITHA PRINCE | 11/30/2014, 9:21 p.m.
By ZENITHA PRINCE
The Afro-American Newspaper
(NNPA) – The University of Baltimore has launched a program to groom students from Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities for law school.
None of the state’s HBCUs – Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore – currently offer test-prep courses for law school. That’s “horribly unfair,” said Michael Meyerson, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. In response, the Fannie Angelos Program for Academic Excellence was created to give students at HBCUs a chance to investigate potential careers in the legal profession.
“The students who enter this program, they don’t have family who went to law school, they don’t know any Black lawyers except for the ones they see on television … The whole world of law is invisible to them,” said Meyerson, the director of the program. “Ultimately, we want to give people a sense of the possible.”
The program is divided into two parts. The first is the Baltimore Scholars Program, which gives eight junior and senior students a taste of the law school experience through a two-week “boot camp” in January at the UB law school’s campus.
The students work with university faculty who expose them to LSAT preparation and the law school admission process, they meet with lawyers and judges, complete assignments and visit law firms.
The second part is a 16-week LSAT preparation course taken by 80 students, including the eight Baltimore Scholars, during the spring semester at their HBCU campus. The program covers all but $100 of the course, and is designed and taught by the Princeton Review.
Students who complete the two-part program and are accepted into UB Law School with a GPA of 3.50 or higher and an LSAT score of at least 152 will receive a full scholarship.
Meyerson said the Fannie Angelos Program was initialized in the mid-1990s when the law dean asked him and close colleague F. Michael Higginbotham – who also runs the program – to evaluate the school’s affirmative action program.
“Like most affirmative action programs, it wasn’t interesting or effective; it was just there. And we wanted to do something more,” Meyerson said.
UB’s revised program is not about giving “handouts,” Meyerson said, but about nurturing true talent.
“This is not a diversity program; it is a talent search because if you find talent and level the playing field, diversity inevitably happens,” he said. “The more that people in the predominantly White legal structure believe there is quality in HBCUs the better.”
So far, 44 program participants have gone onto law school. Meyerson said he hopes those numbers will grow exponentially.
“The hope is that if we have demonstrated success, the more other people will want to pick up the program,” he said.