VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota School of Law has joined the Pipeline to Law Initiative aimed at helping prospective Native American law students to become lawyers, and it will host one of three national workshops toward the effort.
The deadline for the Sept. 16-17 free workshop at USD is Thursday, Sept. 1. Michigan State University College of Law hosted a workshop in August and Arizona State will host one in October. Each school provides professional support to the program, which is funded through grants and gifts to the Indian Legal Program at Arizona State.
Besides the workshops, the initiative’s activities include financial support for Law School Admission Test prep courses, a mentorship program and early outreach to elementary, middle, and high schools with high native populations. The funding provided allows the initiative to provide the workshops free of charge. Interested prospective Native American law students can learn more about it and apply online.
The 2015 National Native American Bar Association study of American Indians in the legal field, “The Pursuit of Inclusion: An In-Depth Exploration of the Experiences and Perspective of Native American Attorneys in the Legal Profession,” found that the native law student population is lower than its rate in the overall U.S. population. The study concluded that pipeline projects reaching students in earlier stages of education are essential to continuing the gains in Native American law student numbers and success. In response to the issues identified in the 2015 survey, the Indian Legal Program and the Indigenous Law Program are joining together to strengthen the Native American pipeline to law.
“As the racial and ethnic diversity of the United States continues to grow, it is increasingly important that comparable cultural diversity grows in the legal profession,” said Christopher P. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of Access Group, a nonprofit comprised of nearly 200 law schools and one of several groups funding the initiative.