The Los Abogados LSAT Fellowship Program increases diversity within the legal profession by helping diverse individuals overcome one major hurdle to law school admissions – the LSAT exam.
When I began my presidency in 2016, Los Abogados already had a long history of funding scholarships for Latino law students (I was a fortunate recipient of the Cordova Scholarship). Los Abogados has also long participated in many programs to inspire K-12 youth to pursue legal careers; however, no formal program existed to mentor those individuals applying to law school.
The Pipeline Committee was formed to implement strategic efforts to increase the number of Latinos in law school and to assist Latinos in the law school admissions process.
Daryl Gonzalez and Marcos Tapia, the founding Committee members, and I reflected on our own journeys and brainstormed different ideas for increasing the number of Latino law students. While the three of us had been admitted and became attorneys, we felt like we were the lucky ones.
Speaking for myself, my LSAT score was “good enough,” though certainly nothing to brag about. I purchased a self-study guide, because I could NOT justify spending $1,000 on a preparation course when I had other immediate expenses such as tuition and rent. I also don’t believe I grasped how important getting the “best” score possible was to both admissions and scholarship opportunities.
Marcos and Daryl also regretted not having found a way to take a LSAT preparation course. Had we done so, our “good enough” scores could have been “great enough” to merit scholarship funds. We also realized that a few points in our scores, could very well have resulted in our rejection to law school or having to have paid an exorbitant amount of money to attend an unaccredited or low-ranked school. It seemed so unfortunate that $1,000 could be the difference for someone like us to be able to pursue their dream.
Marcos and Daryl also regretted not having found a way to take a LSAT preparation course. Had we done so, our “good enough” scores could have been “great enough” to merit scholarship funds.
The Committee started with the idea of offering a few scholarships for LSAT preparation courses. A Kaplan representative encouraged us to consider providing the course to a cohort of individuals, along with mentorship, to make the course more impactful.
In 2017, with the support and donations from several members of the organization and community partners, we launched our first cohort of fellows. Twice per week, the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law donated the use of the “Los Abogados Conference Room” in the law library for the live instruction. On Saturdays, the fellows had the opportunity to visit participating law firms where a Los Abogados attorney proctored a practice LSAT exam. Towards the end of our program both ASU and UofA sent representatives from their admissions offices to talk about financial aid and the admissions process. Each student met with an admissions representative to discuss ways to put their best foot forward in their applications.
“The Los Abogados LSAT program is the reason I am able to go to law school,” says former Fellowship participant Jose Urteaga. “Before the program I was uninformed; both about the LSAT/application process AND the nuances that come with attending law school. The program introduced me to the LSAT, helped prepare me, and welcomed me into a large support network here in Phoenix that I could rely on to guide me through applying and attending law school that you just can’t learn on your own. The program has made law school a thoughtful, and financially responsible decision. I am now ready to go to law school and join my mentors as a colleague.”
With the help of sustaining sponsors like Snell & Wilmer and Nunez & Associates, along with many generous donations from our members and community partners, our Program continues, and we are gearing up to launch our third cohort for 2019.
We are proud that several fellows are currently in law school or have recently been admitted, and we eagerly await the admissions results for several more. Other fellows are taking the tools that they received in the program to continue to improve their LSAT score before submitting an application. All of our fellows know they have our full support.
We are so thankful to all who made our vision a reality so that Los Abogados can continue to lay the foundation for the future. Jessica Sanchez