Each year, African-American law students take on thousands of dollars in debt to pursue a law degree. Financial aid can help reduce the cost of obtaining a legal education. Hundreds of grants and scholarships exist to help African-Americans and those of African descent attend law school. Whether they are from legal associations, law schools or sororities, law students can apply with numerous organizations who provide financial support designed to increase diversity in the legal field.
The first place to source for money is the law school you plan to attend. Although student loans and federal work-study programs can contribute financially, most law schools provide aid through scholarships, grants and fellowships. For example, Capital University Law School offers numerous scholarships for African-American students based on GPA, LSAT scores and financial need. John Marshall Law School automatically considers incoming students for all of its donor-funded student scholarships and awards. Check with your school’s financial aid office to learn about in-house grants and diversity scholarships.
Legal Associations and Organizations
A second source for grants and scholarships is through professional legal associations and organizations. Both national and local bar associations provide financial assistance to minority law students. The American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund awards $5,000 annually to deserving minority applicants. The American Association for Justice awards up to six $1,000 scholarships to African American incoming first, second and third year law students through its Richard D. Hailey AAJ Law Student program.
African American Organizations
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the oldest and largest civil rights organization promoting justice and civil rights for people of color. Since 1964, The NAACP and the Legal Defense Fund have awarded more than $19 million in scholarships through its Herbert Lehman Education Fund and Earl Warren Legal Training Program for African American students pursuing a law career. The United Negro College Fund is the nation's largest minority educational organization that provides financial aid to students of color attending historical black colleges. The UNCF provides general scholarships and manages additional grants for African-American students at various institutions.
Another option for obtaining grants for law school is through law firms. Many law firms award grants to African-American law students as part of its diversity plan. Recipients of the grants usually work at the awarding law firm during the summer and are awarded positions after graduation.
Fraternities and Sororities
Many African-American fraternities and sororities offer scholarships and grants to students attending college. The criteria for obtaining the grants vary by local chapter. Current and prospective law students should contact the local chapter in their area to determine how to apply.
- Capital University Law School: Scholarship Opportunities
- The John Marshall Law School: Scholarship Opportunities & Applications
- American Bar Association: ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund
- American Association for Justice: Richard D. Hailey AAJ Law Student Scholarships
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund: Scholarships
- UNCF: Scholarship Programs
- Northwestern Law School: Firm Scholarships
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