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NJ LEEP receives ABA Alexander Award for diversity efforts

NJ LEEP receives ABA Alexander Award for diversity efforts

By John Glynn

The New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Project received the 2014 Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award for its extraordinary efforts to increase diversity in the legal profession by focusing on educational programming in the pipeline for under-represented students. 

The award, sponsored by the American Bar Association Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, was presented on Feb. 7 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago during the 2014 ABA Midyear Meeting.

NJ LEEP is changing the landscape of pipeline diversity, according to Patrick Hobbs, dean of the Seton Hall University School of Law, who nominated NJ LEEP for the award.

“In its relentless focus upon this three-fold holistic approach to pipeline diversity, its openness to collaboration and replication, and its capacity for strategically developing and maintaining corporate and law firm relationships, NJ LEEP is offering a model for sustained impactful pipeline diversity work,” Hobbs wrote in nominating materials. “NJ LEEP is not only changing the trajectory of the lives of the students it serves, but it is also changing the trajectory of pipeline diversity programming.”

Since 2006, NJ LEEP has been working to empower youth from underserved neighborhoods in northern New Jersey who are interested in a legal career “to greater educational achievement through a focus on skills, habits and exposure.”

Beginning in the sixth grade, NJ LEEP provides school-based programs that facilitate mock trial and debate competitions as well as supply law-related curricula and teacher training on the curricula. The NJ LEEP College Bound Program is a comprehensive, four-year program for high school students that boasts a 100 percent college matriculation rate among program graduates. After graduating from the program, participants continue to receive counseling, pre-law and financial support from NJ LEEP. 

NJ LEEP collaborates with the Law School Admission Council, the Seton Hall University School of Law, the ABA Division for Public Education, more than 20 corporations and law firms, and more than 30 urban high schools and middle schools.

NJ LEEP founder and Executive Director Craig Livermore is a member of the Advisory Commission for the ABA Division for Public Education.

The Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award is named after Raymond Pace Alexander, a lawyer and judge in Pennsylvania, and a leading civil rights advocate; and his wife, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, one of the first African-American women to receive a doctorate in the United States, who went on to earn a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. 

The ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline works to increase the number of diverse students who are on track to becoming lawyers. The Pipeline Council acts as a think tank and programmatic incubator for activities that foster a more diverse educational pipeline into the legal profession and provides a forum for key stakeholders to address particular issues and build networks for change in our educational systems and the legal profession.

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