A partnership between Stillman College in Tuscaloosa and Southern Illinois University Carbondale aims to increase diversity in the legal profession.
Stillman President Cynthia Warrick on Wednesday signed an agreement to establish a student pipeline program with SIU's School of Law.
“This program will allow selected students to participate in a summer pre-law program to expose them to the rigor and policies of law school admissions,” Warrick said in a news release.
The summer program will bring students to SIU’s campus, where they will explore legal careers and learn tips about how to apply to law schools, said Camille Davidson, dean of SIU’s School of Law.
Students will also begin to prepare for the Law School Admission Test, while sharpening skills necessary for law school, such as understanding how to read and analyze a case, Davidson said.
“We will answer ‘Why law school?’ We want to provide these students with the resources to be successful in applying to and graduating from law school,” Davidson said. “Like SIU, Stillman is located in a rural area and many of the students are first-generation college students.”
Last fall, SIU had 246 students enrolled in its law school, of whom 17, or 7%, were Black. The law school had 41 minority students, including women, last fall.
Davidson said the only way to have real access to justice is to train attorneys from a wide variety of backgrounds.
"Students from underrepresented populations are often not exposed to the study of law, and many who are interested are not prepared for the application and admissions process," Davidson said. "Building partnerships with HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, like Stillman, will help SIU School of Law become more diverse.”
The agreement signed Wednesday also includes other options for Stillman students who are considering how they can continue their education after earning bachelor’s degrees.
Warrick said she believes the agreement could lead to further collaboration between the two schools.
“We are also looking to advance similar programs in pre-health professions for students in Stillman’s Biomedical Academy with SIU," Warrick said. "Collaborative efforts like this will ensure Stillman students are competitive for entry and success in law school and other professional programs. We are grateful to SIU for creating this opportunity.”
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Stillman College creates pipeline for potential law school students