Joseph E. Keller Hall, home of the University of Dayton School of Law, offers a new program to promote diversity in the field. Photo Courtesy of Maddy Bartsche, A&E Editor.
Maddy Bartsche | Arts & Entertainment Editor
Dayton law firms Thompson Hine and Taft Law are working together with the University of Dayton School of Law to recruit underrepresented and underserved students to go to law school and have a legal profession.
The Flyer Legal Promise Program, one of the first of its kind, will select two students this year. These students will receive full law school tuition, a $15,000 stipend for living expenses, mentors, summer clerkships and a job at one of the firms after graduation.
“One of the issues that we are all faced with in the legal industry is creating a larger pipeline of people coming into law school from diverse backgrounds,” Andrew Strauss, dean and professor of law at University of Dayton School of Law said.
Dean Strauss continued to explain that most law schools just choose among people that have already decided to go to law school, and when they come out to practice, the firms are basically hiring whoever is already in the pipeline.
“So, we tried to rethink that. We thought, well let’s actually go to expand the pipeline. We know that we have a challenge in the bar in Dayton. It is just not very diverse, especially in the more elite law firms, so we went to the law firms who are really trying very hard to become more diverse,”Strauss said.
“We went to them and we said, ‘okay how about this, we go to our Flyer Promise Program where we have students that come from underrepresented groups and [many of them are] coming from families that are underprivileged in terms of the economic profiles of their families. What about if we find top students in that program and we talk to them about going to law school.’”
The Flyer Legal Promise Program aims to make a legal education attractive and obtainable for students who may have not previously thought about going to law school.
Strauss says the School of Law hopes to find talent early on and then nurture it.
“We’ve started with two of the top firms in the city – Thompson Hine and Taft — and they’re very committed to nurturing these students and mentoring them and we are as well,” Strauss said.
“So, we’re looking for our first two students and we’re looking to bring new firms on each year.”
Students will be chosen through a joint selection process between the School of Law and law firms involved. Other students not in the Flyer Promise program can be proposed by the University of Dayton undergraduate or School of Law admission offices.
“Seeing things from different perspectives and realizing that your own culture is not the only culture in the world and that you can learn from all sorts of different ways it’s been huge for me personally,” Strauss said about the importance of diversity.
“It’s really important that groups that have been traditionally excluded are no longer excluded. I think the university as a whole has made a big commitment to trying to do that and we share that commitment in the law school,” he added.
A third of the School of Law’s 2021 entering class is students from underrepresented and underserved populations. In the winter 2020 issue of National Jurist’s preLaw magazine, the University of Dayton School was named one of the best law schools for African Americans.
The School of Law has a wide variety of opportunities to promote and celebrate diversity including the Summer Diversity Clerkship Program, Minority Summer Externship Program, the Black Law Student Association, the Asian and Pacific Islander Law Student Association, the Hispanic Law Student Association and many more.
Notably, The University of Dayton School of Law is now tied for the title of the fastest rising law school in America based upon the just released 2022 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings. The School of Law, 119th among full-time law schools, has seen an improvement of 22 spots.
Additionally, in recent years the School of Law has seen other improvements in selectivity, median law school admission test scores and GPAs of incoming students, the bar passage rate and job placement.
To apply to the University of Dayton School of Law, visit https://udayton.edu/law/admissions/apply.php.
For more information on the program, email Julie Zink, assistant dean of diversity, equity and inclusion at the School of Law at firstname.lastname@example.org.