This summer, 24 students from all over the United States visited the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law to attend the Bowen School’s Fifth Annual Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) program, funded by a grant from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). The purpose of the PLUS program is to encourage diversity in the legal profession by increasing enrollment in law school of those who are in groups that are traditionally underrepresented in law school. The idea is to encourage the PLUS participants to enroll in law school and, eventually, to join to legal profession.
During the PLUS program, participants were introduced to the law school environment and to the legal profession. To help the participants successfully apply to and gain admission into law school, the participants learned how to write effective personal statements, how to choose a law school, and how to submit a law school application that stands out from the others. To introduce students to the law school environment, the participants spent a significant portion of their time every day in the classroom, learning how to brief cases, make outlines, and take exams, as well as legal writing skills and logical reasoning skills. The students also sat through several hours of instruction in the basics of criminal procedure.
From the participants’ standpoint, perhaps most exciting was their exposure to the legal profession. The students spent time in Hot Springs at the Arkansas Bar Association Annual Meeting, where they were able to meet attorneys from all over the state and participate in CLEs relating to the Supreme Court’s Cooper v. Aaron decision, as well as actually meeting the Brown sisters from the Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. The students also watched oral arguments at the Arkansas Supreme Court, and were able to ask questions of two of the justices at the conclusion of the oral arguments. All of the students were later assigned to attorneys all over central Arkansas who had agreed to be shadowed, allowing the students to learn about a variety of practice areas. Finally, the students all spent a day visiting various trial courts, with many of them having the opportunity to observe a jury trial.