May 25, 2020 Rapid Response

COVID-19 and the Path to the Profession: Is a Legal Career Still the Right Choice? Opportunities for Diverse Lawyers and Why Diversity Matters

Both law schools and the legal profession are facing a number of changes as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. This, coupled with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, persons with disabilities, and low-income communities, has left some diverse law students and those contemplating law school in the future, to ask: is a legal career still the right choice for me? The session panelists discussed: the special challenges facing diverse students; why students from diverse communities should still consider law school; and how COVID-19 has highlighted the need for increased inclusion in the legal profession. Finally, the panelists discussed spaces where professional opportunity is likely to expand post-COVID, and provided resources to assist students in the pipeline to the legal profession to manage the current crisis.

 

Panelists

  • Gretchen Bellamy, Senior Director for Education, Operations and Initiatives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Rodney Fong, Associate Dean for Academic Achievement, Program Assessment & Bar Preparation, UIC John Marshall Law School
  • Fe LopezGaetke, Director of Educational Equity Initiatives, Law School Admission Council
  • Judge Dean Lum, Assistant Presiding Judge, King County, Washington
  • John Pierre, Chancellor, Southern University Law Center

Moderator

  • Matt Archer-Beck, Chair, ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline

Joint Sponsor: ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline

Co-Sponsors: ABA Coalition on Racial and Ethnic JusticeABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession

Resources

Related ABA Entities and Projects:

  • The ABA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force has been created in response to the growing legal needs of Americans rising from the pandemic. The American Bar Association has created a nationwide task force of volunteer lawyers and judges from across the legal profession. This page is intended as a national source of information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the delivery of legal services. It includes resources on remote service delivery, court access and rules changes, legal needs, public benefits programs, and pro bono mobilization.
  • The ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline is working on a three-part series of webinars to discuss the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on diverse communities (i.e., African American and Hispanic communities, persons with disabilities, diverse students in the educational pipeline) and on voting rights. Each webinar will focus on a specific group: candidates for law school, 3L students and students completing their final year of law school, and lawyers in their early career and education pipeline program leaders. The first webinar, entitled “COVID-19 and the Path to the Profession: Is a Legal Career Still the Right Choice,” is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26. I encourage you to register for this webinar.
  • The ABA Law Student Division Council offers online learning tips, news and information, career resources, and leadership opportunities through the student network.
  • The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance provides information on mental health resources for the legal profession during COVID-19.
  • Visit the ABA Career Center for news and information, job openings, and continuing legal education webinars for lawyers and recent graduates.
  • The Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to incoming first-year students. The mission of the program is to encourage racial and ethnic minority students to apply to law school and to provide financial assistance for these students to attend and complete law school.
  • The Judicial Clerkship Program, a joint effort between the ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline and the ABA Judicial Division, introduces diverse law students from around the country to judges and law clerks. The program informs and educates the students as to the lifelong benefits of a judicial clerkship. The program also encourages judges to consider students of color that they otherwise may not have considered for a judicial clerkship. Although the program is anticipated to take place at the in-person ABA midyear meeting in February 2021, the ABA is exploring online options.
  • The Judicial Intern Opportunity Program provides a full-time, six-week-minimum summer internship program to diverse law students who are interested in conducting legal research and writing for state and federal judges. More information will be shared by the ABA regarding this summer program. 

Visit LSAC.org to learn more about:

  • COVID-19 resources for candidates and prelaw students to help them navigate the admission process during the pandemic. If you are aware of a resource that should be highlighted, please contact Fe LopezGaetke at flopez@LSAC.org or Connie Ballou at cballou@LSAC.org.
  • The LSAC candidate webinar series, “Law School Admission in the Time of COVID-19” shares information about what LSAC and law schools are doing to help candidates during this difficult time. Past episodes are available for viewing.
  • LSAC Fee Waiver Program for law school candidates who cannot afford to pay for the LSAT and the Credential Assembly Service.
  • LSAT Writing, a remotely proctored, on-demand exam that is administered online.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners is tracking jurisdictions that have made announcements about changes regarding the July 2020 bar exam.

A recent LSAC Live with Kellye and Ken webinar, entitled “Strategizing with Distance Education at a Time of Uncertainty,” featured commentary from deans about how they are planning for the possibility of continued disruptions to the fall academic term.