Startup’s Diversity Scholarship Program Gains Momentum
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Nov. 23, 2015 — Texas-based law firms Beck Redden LLP, Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, Haynes and Boone LLP, and Jackson Walker LLP are leading the charge to embrace diversity as early sponsors of PracticePro’s Diversity Scholarship Program for law students.
Despite diverse enrollment in law schools—including a near-even split between men and women, and a larger number of students from minority groups—the legal profession as a whole has failed to keep pace with the changing face of America.
“There has been some progress in the legal profession, but it hasn’t been enough,” said Bruce Ruzinsky, a partner in the Houston office of Jackson Walker. “The more diverse we are, the greater the variety of backgrounds and experience we bring to our work, and the better equipped we are to solve legal problems well.”
Alex Roberts, a partner at Beck Redden, agrees. “Lawyers are leaders, but we can’t effectively lead if we don’t accurately reflect society.”
Diversity isn’t just at the top of the agenda for corporate clients when choosing their counsel, however. It’s increasingly a priority for aspiring and new lawyers.
Amanda Kelly, manager of attorney recruitment at Haynes and Boone in Dallas, says change begets change. “Diversity is a major factor lawyers consider when deciding where they want to practice. They want to know about the programs firms have in place to support their diverse attorneys when it comes to recruitment, promotion and retention.”
Eunice Song, a partner with Gardere in Houston, says her firm believes PracticePro’s Diversity Scholarship Program provides the valuable toolset diverse students need. “Diversity candidates typically face numerous hurdles—among them inclusionary, socioeconomic, and stereotyping issues,” she said. “Against these, and other hurdles, opportunities often become limited or even non-existent.”
The Diversity Scholarship Program, offered by PracticePro—a startup striving to bridge the gap between law school and law practice through skills training and career coaching—is a catalyst that gives diverse first-year students the training and mentorship they need to become confident, practice-ready attorneys by graduation. The Diversity Scholarship Program:
• Teaches students lawyering skills expected of them in early years of practice.
• Connects students with mentors and peers through career conferences and seminars.
• Provides long-term career coaching to guide the student on how to build a professional brand, manage their career, and advocate for themselves.
“The legal profession consistently loses talented diverse people, including women, minorities, LGBT, and first-generation professionals. Not only does this have a negative impact on providing the best legal representation, but it also influences workplace morale by having a discouraging ripple effect on the junior attorneys looking for role models,” said Niki Moore, founder and CEO of PracticePro. “We are excited to work with these prominent firms towards improving the profession for the future generation.”
Participating Texas law schools include: Baylor Law School; SMU Dedman School of Law; South Texas College of Law; Texas A&M University School of Law; Texas Tech University School of Law; Thurgood Marshall (TSU) School of Law; University of Houston Law Center; and the University of Texas School of Law. The Diversity Scholarship Program is also available to first-year law students in California, Illinois, and Washington D.C. For more information or to apply, visit www.practicepro.cc/scholarships, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 415-237-3703.