Joint national conferences held at UH Law Center empower minority students to pursue careers in law

Students  talk to Allegra Sturn, left, a 3L UHLC student, and Pilar Mensah, UHLC  associate director of admissions, about the  admissions process during the Black and Hispanic Pre-Law Conference held at the  University of Houston Law Center.

Students talk to Allegra Sturn, left, a 3L UHLC student, and Pilar Mensah, UHLC  associate director of admissions, about the admissions process during the Black and Hispanic Pre-Law Conference.

UHLC Dean  Leonard M. Baynes welcomes students to the national minority conferences held  at the Law Center.

UHLC Dean Leonard M. Baynes welcomes students to the national minority conferences held at the University of Houston Law Center.

Nov. 20, 2015 – More than 100 aspiring law students convened at the University of Houston Law Center last week to learn more about succeeding in law school and beyond. The 11th Annual National Black Pre-Law Conference and the inaugural National Hispanic Pre-Law Conference were held Nov. 13 and 14 in conjunction with a Law School Fair at the UH Student Center.

“This pre-law event is special not only because we offer so much in terms of nationally known and prominent speakers, but also because we are bringing together an important joint event this year,” said Evangeline M. Mitchell, executive director of National Pre-Law Diversity Initiative, Inc. and founder of the conference.

Students visit law school representatives from across the country during the law fair.

The non-profit organization began with the mission of reaching out to and empowering diverse high school and college students and graduates nationwide interested in attending law school.

“Law schools train the next generation of leaders,“ UHLC Dean Leonard M. Baynes said while welcoming about 115 students and attorneys to the opening session, “and the number of Latinos and black lawyers is still small, so conferences like these are important to create a pipeline.”

Students participated in discussions about the challenges of law school and being a minority in the profession. They also attended career development and admissions workshops.

Tiffany Tucker, associate director of the Career Development Office at the Law Center, spoke to the students about professionalism, etiquette, and mandatory soft skills such as courtesy and responsiveness, building networks, and scheduling informational interviews with attorneys. Pilar Mensah, associate director of admissions, answered questions about the admissions process.

The first day panel, which offered advice about the LSAT, life in law school, and responsibilities after law school, included: Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Esq., Professor Jesse Climenko, founder and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School; Benjamin L. Crump, Esq., president of the National Bar Association and partner in the firm of Parks and Crump PLLC  in Tallahassee;  and Nicolaine Lazarre, Esq., senior vice president and general counsel of the National Urban League.

Evangeline M. Mitchell, executive director of National Pre-Law Diversity Initiative, Inc. and founder of the joint conference, welcomes students to the inaugural Hispanic Pre-Law Conference.

“Do not feel frustrated,” Lazarre said, “law school will get better over time, you will discover that you are able to read and retain more and you will become stronger and more capable than when you started.”

The second day panel  included:  Benny Agosto Jr., Esq., partner in the firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend and co-founder of the Hispanic National Bar Association – Legal Education Fund; Robert T. Maldonado, Esq., president of the, Hispanic National Bar Association and partner in the firm of Cooper & Dunham LLP in New York; Linda Maria Wayner, Esq., executive director of the Latino Institute for Human Rights, New York University School of Law, Public Interest Law Center; Thomas A. Saenz, Esq., president and CEO of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in  Los Angeles; and The Honorable Josefina Rendon, associate judge of the City of Houston Municipal Courts and a mediator with Rendon Mediation.

Agosto provided a recipe for success – PCWP:  “Plan, Commit, Work hard, and Pray. I can guarantee success will come if you follow this recipe. I did it and it worked.”

He also encouraged the students to inspire others in order to make a difference. 

“Black and Hispanic communities can effectively work together to collaborate and coalition build toward the common goal of increasing the representation and success of both Black and Latino law students and lawyers,” Mitchell said.

Back to the News Homepage