Free Money: Scholarship Opportunities for Minority Law Students.

You decided to go to law school and now you’re in. You check your school’s tuition and see that the cost of attendance is rising and the price tag looks like a nightmare. The cost of a juris doctorate is steep and with future graduates facing job uncertainties in a tough legal market, the financial burden of law school can be daunting. While accepting mountains of debt is a tough decision to make, it is one that could be made less difficult if funding were more accessible.

To help reduce the cost of law school, there are a number of scholarship funds that are readily available. Specifically, organizations promoting diversity have made these funds accessible to students that are historically under-represented in the legal field, and you should use this opportunity to your benefit.

Gaining access to these awards is simple.  You may want to first check your school’s data bank for information because your school will have access to scholarships that are less competitive. You may also want to supplement that information with researching awards funded by your State’s Bar Association or even small law firms in your area. Even if there is a specific area of the law that is of interest to you, research committees of that practice group to see if funding is available to welcome more diverse candidates to that field.

The application process will be just as simple but may vary by organization. Most organizations require that you show your ethnic or cultural diversity in a 1 – 2 page personal statement, a recommendation letter, and may require you to include your academic transcript.  If you have experience in a particular area then certainly highlight those skills to increase your chances of winning.

Every little financial help counts when you’re in law school so to jumpstart your research, see below a list of scholarships that extend big money to minority students and a few awards that may just be enough to reduce your financial obligation.

Scholarships granting awards of $10,000 or more:

  • Milbank Diversity Scholars Program:

The Milbank Diversity Scholars can receive a $25,000 scholarship and a salaried summer associate position in one of the firm’s domestic offices.For more information, visit Milbank Diversity Scholarship Program.

  • ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund:

The American Bar Association offers scholarships worth $15,000 to 20 incoming law students who devote their time to public service prior to, during, or after law school.  A positive about this scholarship is that it is offered over the course of 3 years.  For more information, visit ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund.

  • Fredrikson & Byron Foundation Minority Scholarship:

Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., work in conjunction with the Fredrikson & Byron Foundation to award two first-year law students of diverse backgrounds with $15,000.  Award requirements and deadline are announced in the Fall.  For more information, visit The Fredrikson & Byron Foundation Minority Scholarship Program.

  • Latham Diversity Scholars Program:

Latham & Watkins offers a $10,000 non-renewable scholarship to 2L students.  For more information, visit Latham Diversity Scholars Program.

  • MCCA Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship Program:

The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) offers 15 scholarships worth $10,000 to full-time J.D. candidates interested in corporate law, who can demonstrate that they have overcome obstacles to become outstanding and promising scholars.  Incoming first-year students may apply, but must show proof that they have been accepted to an ABA-accredited U.S. law school.  For more information, visit MCCA Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship.

  • The American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation:

The AIPLEF offers $10,000 per year scholarships to minorities who have an interest in Intellectual Property Law.  This award is renewable for up to three academic years, but candidates must re-apply.  For more information, visit Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Scholarships.

  • Bay Area Minority Law Student Scholarship Program:

The Bar Association of San Francisco awards up to $10,000 yearly to students attending an ABA accredited law school in the area.  For more information, visit Bay Area Minority Law Student Scholarship Program.

Scholarship funds granting awards between $500 to $10,000:

Additionally, The Miller Johnson West Michigan Diversity Law School Scholarship and The Earl Warren Scholarship are also available to minority students.

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