UVA Law Roadmap Initiative Will Set First-Generation, Low-Income Students on Path to Law School
A new pipeline initiative at the University of Virginia School of Law will offer a first-of-its-kind path to preparing first-generation and low-income undergraduate students to become competitive applicants to the nation’s leading law schools.
The UVA Law Roadmap Scholars Initiative — distinguished by its residential summer program introducing participants to law school and the legal profession, and an internship in the legal industry, with generous financial and counseling support throughout — is accepting applications now for a launch in June.
“We wanted to make every effort to level the playing field for under-resourced students who seek entry into the legal profession,” Dean Risa Goluboff said. “Though there are existing programs that offer pieces of what we are offering with Roadmap Scholars, what sets this initiative apart is how comprehensive it is. We plan to support our Roadmap Scholars at every stage — from learning about law school and gaining first-hand work experience in the law to preparing for high-stakes testing and navigating the law school admissions process. This is a holistic approach to improving outcomes for first-generation and low-income students.”
The initiative has received $200,000 in funding from the Jefferson Trust, a donor-led initiative of the UVA Alumni Association that makes grants to fund innovative ideas that enrich the University and the student experience.
“We are thrilled that support from the Jefferson Trust is making this program possible,” Goluboff said. “This critical seed funding will support and distinguish every part of the scholar experience. We are immensely grateful for the Trust’s advancement of our vision, and we are eager to work together to see it fulfilled.”
The initiative is aimed at first-generation college students, students with limited financial resources, and students who are interested in pursuing a legal career but lack access to opportunities to learn about law school, the admissions process and the legal profession.
Roadmap Scholars will have a residency in Charlottesville for four weeks the summer after their sophomore year to introduce them to law school and the legal profession more broadly. The Law School will fund travel expenses and room and board, and will provide a $3,000 stipend. To get a taste of what being a law student is like, they will take mini-courses on a broad range of topics from the school’s curriculum.
The second stage of the initiative supports the Roadmap Scholars as they prepare to apply for law school, and includes a stipend to take an LSAT preparation course, mentoring from UVA Law students and alumni, advice and counsel from a faculty member at the scholar’s home institution, and monthly meetings with the initiative’s director, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Belonging Mark C. Jefferson.
The final stage of the initiative takes place after the scholars’ junior year, with scholars attending a two-week application boot camp in Charlottesville followed by a legal internship at a private-, public- or nonprofit sector employer, with housing, travel and stipends provided. During the two weeks at UVA Law, scholars will also participate in an orientation for their internships.
Goluboff said the initiative marks a long-term commitment to growing a network of law students and lawyers who will support the next generation of Roadmap Scholars and play important roles in the legal profession.
“We envision that the bonds scholars and members of the UVA Law community will forge over these two years will outlast the length of the formal program,” she said. “We hope this community of scholars will support each other and become advocates for each other across generations, creating a legacy of which we can all be proud.”
Goluboff expects the program to contribute to expanding the applicant pool at UVA and other law schools to students with a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds.
“Our goal is to increase access for these talented students not only to law school but also to the legal profession, which in turn, will redound to the benefit of the profession and society as a whole,” she added.
Jefferson, who joined the Law School in March, said he is excited to lead the innovative initiative, the design of which he spearheaded.
“This is a dream program for high-achieving students who are interested in law school and want to learn more, and who want to be fully prepared for the highly competitive nature of applying to UVA and other top law schools,” Jefferson said. “This initiative will challenge the Roadmap Scholars to work very hard, and our expectations for their success, as a result, are high.”
Undergraduates interested in the Roadmap Scholars Initiative must submit a completed application, an official or unofficial academic transcript, answers to three essay prompts and at least one letter of recommendation. Materials are due March 15, and applicants will be notified on or before May 1.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.