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March 16, 2022

Funding the Pre-Law Pathway Program

Funding needs for community college pre-law pathway programs vary. Unlike pre-law programs targeting students attending four-year colleges, which oftentimes focus on funding for bar preparation courses, scholarships, and law school application fee waivers, costs for a community college pre-law program are generally associated with programming.  Examples include: 

  •  Refreshments/meals associated with meetings, receptions or speaker events. 
  • Public transit or private coaches/buses costs for outings to courthouses, law firms or other off-campus events. 
  • Sponsoring students to attend legal-related conferences, such as those hosted by state-wide or national bar associations. 
  •  Copying and other clerical related costs. 

Obtaining funding or assistance from the community college itself should be your first stop. For example, your college could “fund” your program by providing a dedicated meeting space. And as your community college pre-law program develops, the college may also dedicate a community college employee or professor to assist with the program. 

Legal Community:

Funding for receptions, meetings or speaker events usually involve advertisement and food and beverage costs. To minimize or eliminate the costs of room rental, the event should be held on–campus or at a law firm or corporate office. To assist with these expenses, we recommend identifying a partner/sponsor, such as a law firm or corporate law department. Identifying these types of partners also facilitates mentorship and speaker opportunities, and even potential members to sit on your community college Advisory Council. 

Law Schools:

We also recommend you contact the admissions or diversity and inclusion offices of local law schools to identify potential ideas on funding. Law school websites should provide contact information. In addition, law student affinity groups might be able to provide contacts to law firms. Many of the law students in these groups may already be working with attorneys and law firms, and therefore can put you in contact with attorneys who are dedicated to the advancement of pre-law students. 

Bar Associations:

To identify potential partners, we recommend you identify your local or statewide bar associations and contact them for ideas  National bar organizations you should consider contacting include, but are not limited to the Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the National Native American Bar Association, and the National Asian American Bar Association.  These and similar national bar associations also have regional representatives in most states who you should consider contacting to discuss funding ideas or partnering on events. Separately, they may be able to refer you to a local bar organization or law firm to partner with on programs, assist with funding, provide speakers, and mentoring. In addition, you may be able to piggy-back on their programs as a co-sponsor and provide other opportunities for your students to attend events. 

Another great source to obtain funding ideas are existing pre-law programs in your area. A good place to identify some of these programs is the National Pipeline Diversity Initiative Directory, which can be found on our ABA Educational Pipeline Council website. These programs offer a wealth of information.  

Private Foundations:

Looking for other sources for funding, private foundations often support education related programs, especially programs that focus on diversity and equity. In some states, foundations, such as the Foundation for California Community Colleges, were established specifically to support community colleges. Many of these foundations provide administrative support and resources for diversity and equity efforts. Other community college foundations, such as Washington State Community College Foundation, focus on funding for students and programs. 
Another possible source of funding are organizations that support legal education, such as the American Bar Association (ABA), Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and AccessLex. These organizations support pre-law program efforts directly or in partnership with law schools. 


Another source for funding might be your local or state government.  Similar to foundations, government legislation and programs support education and diversity and equity programs. Some of these programs may already be budgeted, waiting to fund programs like yours.  

And of course, you can reach out to us for ideas on potential contacts in your area. We would also love to hear where you are on your pre-law program and obtain information and feedback so we may include it in our future toolkits.