National Mentorship Program Created for Aspiring Black Lawyers Successfully Launched
The program is organized and administered by Attorney Mitchell's 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, National Pre-Law Diversity Initiatives, Inc. They have officially partnered with the National Black Law Students Association's Pre-Law Division, the National Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division, and the National Bar Association's Law Students Division. In order to ensure that there are engaged, culturally aware, and community-minded Black law students and lawyers available and ready to serve, Mitchell worked in collaboration with Andrea Rivers, immediate past National Chair of the Pre-Law Division for the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA), Onika K. Williams, Esq., National Chair of the National Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division (NBA-YLD), and Jermel Singleton, National Chair of the National Bar Association's Law Student Division (NBA-LSD) in order to successfully launch.
This initiative is unique because aspiring Black lawyers are not just paired with a one-on-one mentor. Instead, they are assigned a "mentoring circle" consisting of a current Black law student and a Black lawyer, as well as 4 to 5 Black pre-law students who would serve as accountability partners to one another. The intention is that this small group could come together to create a "circle of support" to help pre-law students to forge forward in their pursuit of law school, instead of giving up prematurely because of having to navigate the difficult and highly competitive process alone. During mentoring sessions, pre-law students will be able to learn more about law school admissions, the law school experience, the practice of law, as well as several other topics that are critical to academic and professional success.
The inaugural class includes 72 Black lawyer mentors and 72 Black law student mentors, or "Bridge Builders," who will co-lead mentoring their circles of 5 to 6 pre-law students. This year, over 370 pre-law students from all over the country will benefit from the program. A limited number of law students will serve as fellows to help facilitate pulling together additional resources, supplemental programming, and opportunities for program participants.
According to Attorney Mitchell, "What many potential Black law school applicants are missing is that don't have lawyers in their families, extended families, or social circles. They lack social capital. They will be the very first to become lawyers. Many just don't have anyone to go to who will help them and are willing to pour into and invest in their future success. We all know that having a support system is absolutely crucial, a game-changer. Pursuing a challenging, obstacle-laden path like becoming a lawyer is not something most people can see to the finish line without the benefit of support and relationships. This program aims to fill that void by providing the extended support that they need to keep moving forward in their journeys."
Mitchell stresses that the underrepresentation of Black people in law schools and in the legal profession is a major problem that cannot be solved overnight, but despite this, it is one that deserves continued and consistent commitment, attention, and innovation. She deeply believes in mobilizing people who also care about the issue and getting to solutions, and a part of that process is studying the problem and resolving to "do something" to address it. This is one worthy initiative and collective community effort that will contribute to bettering the situation for many.
The mentorship program is open to aspiring Black lawyers from high school students to college students to college graduates, working professionals, and career changers. All participants must sign a mentorship agreement and commit to virtual meetings monthly for an entire year with the goal being that they have set a solid foundation for relationships that will last well beyond their year in the program.
All pre-law participants will also receive complimentary pre-law resources and additional perks. Applications for the 2021 class is closed. However, applications for the 2022 classes of lawyer mentors, law student mentors, and pre-law mentees are currently being accepted. This program is provided at absolutely no cost to participants. For more information, please visit the program's website at www.bridgebuildersesq.org.
Evangeline M. Mitchell
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Page Updated Last on: Feb 02, 2021