University of Houston Law Center Logo
Give Now  
HOME Faculty

UHLC guest Keys discusses strengthening law school applicant pool on HBA Behind the Lines podcast

Mariesha Keys - Headshot


May 1, 2024 — Behind the Lines: The Houston Lawyer podcast featured Mariesha Keys (J.D. ’19), the new Director of the Pre-Law Pipeline Programs at the University of Houston Law Center who spoke about the representation within law schools and the wider legal profession.

The podcast, which aired earlier this year, focused on the theme of “History, Allyship, Legal Education and Change.”

Pre-Law Pipeline Programs: Nurturing Aspiring Lawyers

Keys, a Pipeline graduate herself, says the program’s at-large goal is, to “strengthen and expand the law school applicant pool [“for students”] who are first-generation, low-income or members of groups underrepresented from the legal community. We have several different tracks that cater to different classifications. So, for example, let’s say you’re in college, you’re a rising sophomore or junior, you would do our Scholar I track which allows for you to take introductory law school courses such as Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, and also have an internship component.”

Keys explained the Scholar II track focuses on law school application readiness, an LSAT prep curriculum, as well as personal statement development workshops, resume review and more.

A Working Professionals track is geared toward students who already have a bachelor’s degree and may be looking to do a “professional pivot” of sorts.

Keys also discussed pre-law preparation programs with Houston Lawyer in the publication’s feature on The U.S. Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Decision. The court, in Fair Admissions V. Harvard, overturned the use of race in higher education. 

“Our Pipeline Programs have always been race-neutral and welcome a wide variety of students of all backgrounds who have a genuine interest in attending law school and pursuing a legal career,” Keys noted.

The UHLC Pre-Law Pipeline Programs are open to students nationwide.

Since its inception, 405 participants have utilized the Pre-Law Pipeline, of which 40 scholars were accepted into the University of Houston Law Center and 140 went to law schools nationwide — with more than half remaining in the Lone Star state.

A glance at the Pre-Law Pipeline demographics speaks volumes as to its target pool and its success rate: 50% of participants are first-generation college students and 54% come from families with annual household incomes below $50,000.

Keys’ personal trek through the Pipeline began while it was still an eight-week program (a five-week classroom component with a three-week internship placement).

“I found it to be very transformative. And it really solidified my interest in going to law school.”

Keys says plans for the Pipeline program may focus more on undergraduates, and perhaps “planting the seed even younger” starting in high school with a potential two-week program.

“Strengthening the law school applicant pool,” Keys explains, is “equipping students who are closer to applying to law school with all the information they need to know about navigating the law school admission process.”

That foundation includes immersive law school experiences so student applicants can build on strong grades, good study habits, and discipline – all skills that will serve students well if they choose to pursue law school.

“We’re really trying to think of the big picture here.  The more equipped we can have students at the onset, the better long-term they are to serve the legal community at large and help others.”

She also hopes to get Houston-area attorneys to become strong community allies by leading mentorships, hosting internships, participating in virtual lunch-and-learns, and advocating by word-of-mouth recommendations.

Behind the Lines: The Houston Lawyer Podcast is a companion to The Houston Lawyer, the bimonthly magazine of the Houston Bar Association.

For more information on the Pre-Law Pipeline Programs, visit

Back to News Homepage