Campus News

Kentucky Law Schools Partner to Introduce HBCU Undergraduates to Law School

30 students pose in the courtroom
The program for diverse undergraduate students, specifically those from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), was held at the UK College of Law in Lexington. Photo courtesy of: College of Law.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 6, 2019)  The Commonwealth of Kentucky’s three law schools ­— University of Kentucky College of Law, Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law and the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law — partnered on Nov. 22, 2019, to host a joint initiative to diversify the legal profession.

The “Become the Change: HBCU Law School Preview” program was developed to expose diverse students to the legal profession and provide networking opportunities and pertinent information about excelling in the application process. The program for diverse undergraduate students, specifically those from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), was held at the UK College of Law in Lexington.

Jimmi Nicholson, UK College of Law’s director of admissions, secured funding for the program through a Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) Diversity Matters Grant

“Access to justice is essential for a democratic society and diversity in the legal profession can increase access and quality of service in all of our communities,” said Nicholson. “Lawyers who reflect our increasingly diverse population can make a powerful and meaningful impact on the greater legal community and influence the future of their communities, government and the world.”

Through the grant program, LSAC member law schools are eligible for funding up to $3,000 to support diversity outreach efforts. Law schools are encouraged to host events that motivate students who are underrepresented in the legal profession — including racial and ethnic groups, the LGBTQ community, individuals with disabilities, and indigenous Canadians — to consider law as a career.

This initiative was designed to introduce students in community college, early college, high school and middle school to the legal profession, the law school admissions process and the skills tested on the Law School Admission Test and in law school classrooms.

Nicholson said the grant allowed program organizers to provide printed materials, lunch and T-shirts to the 30 students who participated.

In addition, the program included:

  • Information from the Law School Admissions Council on services for diverse applicants.
  • A mock class in UK Law’s G. Chad Perry III Grand Courtroom with UK College of Law William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law Melynda J. Price.
  • A panel discussion about the application process and how to be a competitive applicant.
  • Opportunities to hear from current law students from all three law schools and practicing attorneys.

Nicholson said she hopes the program will become an annual event. 

“‘Become the Change’ was a great opportunity for the students who attended,” Nicholson said. “They left the program feeling inspired and ready to join the profession.”

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.