National HBCU Pre-Law Summit Aimed At Producing More Black Law School Applicants - Higher Education
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National HBCU Pre-Law Summit Aimed At Producing More Black Law School Applicants

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by Gia Savage

Hundreds of students are expected to assemble in Greensboro, North Carolina, next month for the nation’s only Pre-Law Summit for students and graduates of historically Black colleges and universities.

In its 4th year, the National HBCU Pre-Law Summit is free and will be held at Bennett College and North Carolina A&T State University, two historically Black institutions of higher education in North Carolina, from September 15-17th.

Founded by Prairie View A&M graduate Evangeline M. Mitchell in 2014, the event is designed to help students who are interested in careers in law, network with one another, get access to resources and information about applying to law schools, and establish connections with those who are already practicing law.

Mitchell’s idea for connecting other African-American students interested in law initially began with her founding the National Black Pre-Law Conference in 2005.

“The reason for starting it [was] just my own personal experiences, the difficulty of getting good information, not having access to resources, not having access to a network,” says Mitchell.

A graduate of the University of Iowa’s College of Law and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, Mitchell was a first-generation law school applicant who navigated the admissions process alone.

“There was so much that I didn’t know,” she says. “It was a very painful experience for me.”

In an effort to ensure that others would not have the same difficult experience that she encountered in applying to law school, Mitchell says that she made a commitment, that she would give back and share her knowledge with other law school applicants who would come after her.

“The entire admissions process, the entire process of going through law school, every step along the way is very challenging and it’s very difficult,” she says. “And [for] those of us who just don’t know what we don’t know, and who are going through it, and are the first ones to do it, it’s even more difficult to navigate.”

Mitchell is expecting about 400-500 attendees and encourages students to bring family members “so that they have an understanding of what they’re going to embark upon.”

She says that due to the challenges of law school, it is important for students to establish support systems that understand the rigors of the application process.

The empowering two-day summit will provide students with the opportunity to hear from prominent speakers. Dr. Jamal Watson, executive editor of Diverse, will moderate a discussion with HBCU law school deans.

Additional sessions will focus on funding law school, writing a personal and diversity statement, and taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). There will also be a law school expo with representatives from up to 100 law school programs, networking opportunities, and an optional Sunday tour of significant civil rights and African American historical sites in Greensboro.

Mitchell hopes that when students leave the summit they will have created a tight network among themselves.
“I want to make sure that at a minimum, they leave with more information, more resources, and more connections than they could have possibly hoped to have by the time they leave,” she says. “I also want them to leave with a sense of social responsibility and understanding that not only are they needed, but they’re also needed to come back and to help those coming behind them.”

For more information on the Summit, click here.