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Cause Magazine 2011


Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO)


Helping Minority Youth Attend Law School (NASA)


The statistics regarding minorities in law school and the legal profession are shocking. The American Bar Association's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity reported that in 2000 (the last year statistics were compiled based on U.S. Census data), only 9.7 percent of attorneys in the U.S. were minorities; that breakdown showed 4 percent of attorneys were African American, 3.3 percent Hispanic and the remainder of the minority contingent Asian American. These rates were stark- ly lower than for other professions. As far as new people enter- ing the profession, the numbers fluctuate depending on the study but, according to the ABA, 9,820 minorities were awarded law degrees in 2006-2007 representing about 22 percent of the of law degree recipients. Some statistics indicate the number is declining though. African American, Hispanic and Native American youth in particular need to become more aware of the opportunities that a legal education can provide. After all, a law degree will help take you to the top of many different fields—even if you don’t want to practice in the courtroom. Minority students often are not familiar with college, the law school admission process, the LSAT test, and the Bar exam, but there are organizations that will help assist interested students. Pipeline programs, scholar-


ships, internships and information are out there and there are many people in the legal profession who are helping to increase minority interest in the field.


The Council On Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) is a great organization that helps students of all ages to pursue a legal education. CLEO has a more than 40-year tradition of being in the forefront of diversifying the legal profession. In 1968, CLEO was founded as a non-profit project of the ABA Fund for Justice and Education to expand opportunities for minority and low-income students to attend law school. Since its inception, more than 8,000 students have participated in CLEO's pre-law and law school academic support programs, successfully matriculated through law school, passed the bar exam and joined the legal profession. CLEO alumni, many who had less than traditional academic indicators of success, yet were given an opportunity to attend law school, are represented in every area of society, including: private law firms and corpora- tions, law schools, federal and state judiciaries, and legislatures across the country. The influence of CLEO alumni in the legal profession, in particular and throughout the country in general, is an indication of the important role CLEO has played in help- ing to provide a voice to underrepresented groups.


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