Summer “Pathway” Programs

Many law schools and organizations offer “pathway” programs for undergraduates (typically sophomores or juniors) who are interested in applying to law school. These are summer programs and other kinds of workshops that help you with the application process, offer some LSAT prep, and provide lots of networking with lawyers, law students, and law professors so you can learn more about what law school is like and the legal profession. And many of these programs are FREE. 

Many, but not all, of these programs are targeted towards underrepresented students. Law is one of the least diverse careers in the nation. Keep in mind that diversity includes many things, such as racial or ethnic minorities, people from families with low incomes, being the first in your family to go to college or law school, being a first-generation immigrant, or someone who is not attending an elite college (like Harvard or Yale), or someone who is from out-of-state.  

Most of these programs have applications deadlines in February or March.

AccessLex Diversity Pipeline Program Directory. START HERE!!This website provides you with a searchable database of every summer pathway program for undergraduates in the nation. Some of these are free, and some are quite expensive. Some are for underrepresented populations, some are not. Most of these programs are sponsored by specific universities. If a particular program is interesting to you, read the program description carefully and be sure to ask questions about tuition and living expenses; many of these programs do not provide housing.

TRIALS, co-sponsored by Harvard and NYU Schools of LawThis is a 5-week summer program that takes place in alternative years at Harvard and NYU Schools of Law for students “of modest means who come from backgrounds that are currently underrepresented at the nation’s top law schools.” This is a program that defines diversity very broadly. In addition to LSAT prep, students participate in seminars on legal careers and networking. The application process starts in October of your junior year. While it is highly competitive, if you are accepted, the program is free.

Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc (CLEO)CLEO is a non-profit organization with the mission of increasing the number of minority and low-income students in law school. They offer a wide variety of short workshops (many online) on the application process and taking the LSAT, as well as a premier in-person summer program, the Prelaw Summer Institute (PLSI), held at about 10 different law schools every year across the nation. They also have a free newsletter you can sign up for.

LSAC Plus Program.  For rising sophomore and juniors, this is a 2-month intensive program that includes workshops on the application process and LSAT prep, as well as an internship, held at several law schools across the nation. There are also online versions of this program.

LexScholars by AccessLexThis free program is for rising seniors from underrepresented racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds who possess potential for law school success but may be unlikely to gain admission due to low LSAT scores. LexScholars receive LSAT prep training, application and financial counseling, and writing skills development. You apply during March of your junior year.

Marshall-Motley Scholars Program, sponsored by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund This program is a full scholarship to law school for students who are interested in serving as civil rights lawyers in the South after they graduate from law school. Applications are due the February before starting law school (so February of your senior year).

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