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Launch into Law bridge to profession program prepares students for law school application process, experience

The University of Toledo College of Law piloted the Launch into Law bridge to the profession program this year to increase the number of historically underrepresented students enrolled in law school. The free, weeklong program took place last month.

Launch into Law prepared participants to be stronger law school applicants and law students. Participants were immersed in courses to prepare them for the Law School Application Test (LSAT) and to improve legal writing and study skills.

Additionally, the participants sat in on a first-year law school class, and attended sessions on success strategies, clinical education, the admissions process, and legal career opportunities.

Faculty members in the UT College of Law presented practice spotlights on business law, health law, criminal law, and intellectual property law. The program also included a field trip to observe proceedings at the Toledo Municipal Court.

The first cohort was composed of 11 undergraduate students and recent graduates of The University of Toledo, as well as institutions around the country: Ohio State University, Penn State University, Roosevelt University, Spring Arbor University, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Xavier University. Participants ranged in age from 19 to 30.

Each participant was matched with a student mentor and a professional mentor based on the student’s background and expressed practice interest. Professional mentors included a common pleas court judge and prosecutor, as well as attorneys in small and large firms, legal aid/nonprofit agencies, and senior corporate counsel.

Jelani Jefferson Exum, professor of law and associate dean for diversity and inclusion, designed the Launch into Law program in collaboration with Amber Chuhy, assistant director of law admissions.

“Programs providing a pipeline to law school are vitally important, not only in providing individuals from a variety of backgrounds with access to a legal career, but also in enhancing the legal profession itself so that it better reflects the rich diversity of our society,” Exum said. “I was so pleased with the caliber of students that participated in our first program. They are bright, passionate, and all very interesting individuals whom I have no doubt will be excellent law students.”

The Launch into Law pilot was a success. Official LSAT practice tests were administered pre- and post-experience. Participant scores increased an average of 4.6 points with increases as high as 8 points. Three participants already have applied to the UT College of Law for fall 2019, with two more planning to apply in the future.

“This program has enlightened me to the true practice of law and has given me a glimpse as to what I should expect as a future law student,” said Noelle DeRiso from Penn State University. “Hearing each of the member’s journeys has only strengthened my passion to one day work within the law.”

DeRiso added, “Launch into Law has only solidified my desire to attend The University of Toledo’s law school. With the array of opportunities offered through its legal clinics and extensive courses taught by such knowledgeable professors, I know I will receive an exceptional education that will prepare me for the real world.”

For more information about the program, contact Chuhy at amber.chuhy@utoledo.edu.

Launch into Law participants gathered with their professional mentors for a group photo last month.