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Chase Expands Efforts to Increase Diversity in Legal Profession

Ashley Siemer

Chase College of Law is launching an initiative to graduate a more ethnically and economically diverse student body into the legal profession through a three-prong approach of increased financial aid, profession-related skills development and coverage of bar exam expenses.

 “People who are first-generation college, low-income or ethnically or racially diverse remain underrepresented in the legal profession,” says Ashley Siemer, Chase director of student affairs and enrollment management who created the program. “These individuals, even if granted an opportunity to attend law school, face many obstacles to realizing their dreams. The largest obstacles include financial support and soft-skills development that others have greater access to, given their backgrounds and resources. The Chase Law program we are calling ‘All Rise’ aims to remove those obstacles and pave a more manageable path to the legal profession for underserved individuals.”

It will do that financially by:

• Paying for books and academic support materials for up to 10 first-year students.

• Awarding second-year students who participated in skills-development programming their first year a stipend to cover most book costs.

• Paying for third-year students’ bar review courses and bar examination application fees.

Professionally, the program will:

• Provide skills-development programming in areas such as networking, interviewing, accessing resources, managing time and setting goals.

• Help participants develop leadership skills through mentoring Northern Kentucky University undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds who hope to attend law school.

The program, which will be funded by a competitive grant Ms. Siemer obtained from Northern Kentucky University, will measure success as:

• A first-year median grade point average above the 25th percentile of the entire class.

• Placement of 75 percent of first-year participants in law-related summer jobs.

• An 85 percent or higher graduation rate.

• At least a 70 percent bar passage rate for first-time takers.

• Mentoring of at least 50 undergraduates.

“We recognized that law students’ needs are multifaceted, and our approach to supporting our students must reflect this reality,” Ms. Siemer says. “The All Rise program is designed to adapt to the changing needs of students as they progress from the 1L year to taking the bar examination. The program offers financial and professional development support along with attention to overall student wellness and the importance of connection.”

All Rise will launch at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.