Path to universities streamlined

Seven-year program provides eligible students chance at law school

By Lorenzo Morotti, Editor-in-chief

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Select community colleges statewide will be providing students a streamlined path to enroll into select universities and ultimately graduate from law school within seven years.

The Pathway to Law School initiative will be piloted at Contra Costa College starting this fall semester to promote the statewide push for ethnic diversity among working attorneys in California.

The California Bar Association and its Council on Access and Fairness created the initiative with the partnership of the California community college Chancellor’s Office.

Administration of justice department Chairperson Rick Ramos said once a student meets his or her general education requirements he or she would have to only take an additional six courses, or 19 units, to be part of the pathway program.

“After some analysis,” Dr. Ramos said, “(CCC) has about 1,200 students who are eligible to enroll into the program because they already have the appropriate number general education courses completed.”

He said once a student graduates with an associate degree in political science or administration of justice, he or she will be given priority above other applicants at select universities where they will spend another two years before transferring to a law school for three years.

Hence the “Two, plus two, plus three” slogan that CCC’s Community and Educational Partnership liaison Ashley Patterson will be promoting throughout the campus with informational fliers and workshops.  

The colleges include Loyola Marymount University, Santa Clara University, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, San Francisco State and USC.

The brochure provided by Patterson states additional benefits the program will provide students, including specialized counseling appointments and membership to the Pre-Law Club on campus. Also, financial aid counseling is available to waive the application fees to get into law school and help in preparing to take the LSAT, which is the law school entrance exam.

“Students who get into the cohort will also have access to law school support,” CCC Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson said.

Gilkerson said the only course that needed to be created for the pathway to law school program was ADJUS-135, Law and Democracy.

Ramos said this class will be offered on Thursdays from 6-9 p.m., but is not limited to those hours if there is a large enough student interest.

He added that he is currently reviewing applications of potential instructors.

“I have been looking for somebody to not only (teach the course) but to be the adviser,” he said. “For (a student) to get into law school, you need to delegate someone who knows the ins and outs and who is willing to work with students.”

Patterson is working to create a comprehensive brochure promoting the new initiative and will be in charge of reaching out to high schools within the college’s service area from March through April.  

She said informational events, which aim to explain the program to students, will be held on March 18 and April 11 in AA-113 and LA-102, respectively.

“(The Pathway to Law School program) will increase diversity within the law field so that there is representation from different ethnic groups across the board,” she said, “And (CCC) is prime for that because the campus is diverse and reflects the unique community it represents.”

In order to promote the new program, she will be visiting administration of justice clubs at Pinole Valley, De Anza, Kennedy and Richmond high schools in April.

“We need to bring awareness that graduating law school is attainable starting at the high school level,” she said.  

Ramos said the Pathway to Law School pilot program was approved by the Contra Costa Community College Governing Board last fall after the state Chancellor’s Office helped push the initiative.

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