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March 14, 2022

Connecting with the Legal Profession

You will need to gain the support of the broader legal community to organize a successful community college pathway pre-law program. Those in the private sector – solo practitioners, small to medium size law firms, and global law firms – can provide financial support for outreach events, administrative costs, and scholarships. Judges and attorneys, both private and public sector attorneys, can serve as mentors. Moreover, they can provide internship opportunities. All these opportunities will immensely enrich your students’ experience in the program. 

Developing an Advisory Council

You should consider developing an Advisory Council composed of attorneys and judges from diverse backgrounds and subject-matter expertise. This Advisory Council should be large enough to represent the broader legal community in your area (e.g.  government attorneys, private practitioners, in-house counsel), but small enough to be accountable and flexible. Please consider diversity broadly when inviting people onto the council, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, geography, and years of practice. Having a diverse Advisory Council will allow you to reach more members of the legal community and will attract different students to your program

Community Outreach and Building Support

You will need to reach out and build support for the pre-law program. You can (and should) rely on your Advisory Council, since they likely have established contacts that you can tap into. Below are resources you can use to outreach and build support for your program. 

  • Judicial Officers 

    Judges can serve as excellent Advisory Council members and mentors. By virtue of their position, they also are well connected and knowledgeable about your legal community. You should approach municipal, county, state, and federal judges in your area and ask for their help with the pre-law program. Based on applicable state or federal judicial codes of ethics, they may not be able to help fundraise.  However, they can provide internships and mentorship.

    You can contact a judge by searching on the website of the court on which the judge sits. Usually, the website should list an email or telephone number to reach the judges’ judicial assistant or chambers. You can call the number or send an email invitation. Alternatively, you can mail an introductory or invitation letter to the court’s address. 
  • Law Firms 

    Law firms can provide financial support, venues for events, internships, mentors, and marketing. You can search for global law firms in your region by checking Vault  and the American LawyerYou can also contact nearby law schools to ask about prominent law firms in the area.
  • Corporations (In-house counsel) 

    Many corporations also have legal departments from which you can draw monetary and nonmonetary support. Amazon in Seattle, Washington, JP Morgan Chase in Columbus, Ohio, Coca Cola in Atlanta, Georgia, are just a few examples of such legal departments. You can search for them through the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, and the American Bar Association. You can contact these associations through their websites.

Organizing Events

Lastly, you can organize events to draw support from the broader legal community, such as through an Annual Pathways to Law Summit/Conference.  You can invite judges, lawyers, and community leaders to speak on panels and to participate as mentors. Through the event, you can get buy-ins from stakeholders in the legal community.