June 10, 2015 – Twenty-two undergraduate students are taking part this month in an intensive, six-week pre-law program at the University of Houston Law Center to see if becoming a lawyer is right for them.
“The UHLC Pre-Law Pipeline Program is specifically designed to provide resources to undergraduate students who are first generation, low income, or members of groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession and who are interested in pursuing a career in law,” said Dean Leonard M. Baynes. “The program prepares students for the LSAT exam, the law school application process, and their law school careers.”
“Dean Baynes is demonstrating great leadership in our local legal community with the UH Law Center Pipeline program. His strategic move to reach underrepresented students to inspire them with a career in law is an outstanding example of why the University of Houston is the ‘House Innovation Built,'" said UH Provost Paula Myrick Short.
Students will receive two weeks of introductory law school courses taught by Law Center faculty and two weeks of LSAT preparation before interning for two weeks at local law firms and courts. Participants also will receive professional development training, legal research and writing classes, and mentoring by current UHLC law school students.
As Baynes noted in his welcome remarks to Pipeline students, “You will get exposure to actual law school classes taught by actual law school professors where you will learn what it means to think like a lawyer. The Law Center is launching this Pipeline Program because we believe all people should have the opportunity to enter the legal profession. The Program affords students an opportunity to work hard to get there.”
The inaugural class comprises 10 men and 12 women, ranging in age from 20 to 27, drawn from states across the country including Texas, New York, California, Alabama, Louisiana, Iowa, and Massachusetts with majors as varied as accounting and engineering to African studies and theater.
“We have gathered some of the most impressive young men and women to be a part of this terrific program,” said Kristen Guiseppi, program manager. “I am amazed and inspired by their drive to achieve their goals of attending law school, and I am certain that they will be successful!”
The program began with a welcome from Baynes and a panel discussion moderated by Professor Meredith Duncan in which several panelists gave students pointers on what to expect out of law school and a potential future legal career. The panelists were Assistant Dean for Admissions Jamie Dillon; Harris County Justice of the Peace Hilary H. Green, a University of Houston alumna; Rayna Anderson, a UH career services advisor; and Rocio Ruiz, a second-year UHLC student.
“This is a great program, Dillon said. “It will help you hone academic skills that will be very important in law school and the practice of law,” including critical reading and writing skills and analysis. She advised the students to engage with their professors by discussing class material during office hours and talking about their future education and career plans.
The panelists told the students they would need to be prepared from the start to set high goals and to push themselves to achieve them.
“You cannot cheat the grind,” Anderson said. “You’re going to have to work very hard. Working smarter doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have to work hard. Don’t get comfortable, and never stop trying to become qualified to do whatever job you’re pursuing. Every single thing you do every day makes a difference.”
“I do think that law school is a very different environment,” Ruiz said. “I’m used to being in a very competitive environment and working a lot. But it was still a lot to take on. Some of the stresses are unique to law school.”
Though law school can be a very competitive environment, she advised students not to get too caught up in comparing themselves to their peers.
“You should solely focus on pushing yourself to being the best that you can be, and being content with that,” Ruiz said. “And working hard, not because you need to beat everybody else, but because you want to be the best attorney that you can be for your clients.”
Aimara Flores, who will be a senior at the University of Houston next fall, said UHLC was her first choice for a law school. She said she decided to attend the Pre-Law Pipeline Program because it would help her gain critical skills as she prepares to take the LSAT next fall.
“I felt it is a great opportunity for me to gain experience and get a feel for what law school is going to be like. I also think the program is going to help me gain confidence to be successful,” Flores said.
Click here to see 2015 Pre-Law Pipeline Program class.