Social Justice: Historically Black Law Schools Stick to Their Original Mission While Modifying Curriculums to Remain Relevant during Tough Economic Times

By Oguntoyinbo, Lekan | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, March 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

Social Justice: Historically Black Law Schools Stick to Their Original Mission While Modifying Curriculums to Remain Relevant during Tough Economic Times


Oguntoyinbo, Lekan, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For Kourtni Mason, a student at the Southern University Law Center, a historically Black law school in Baton Rouge, La., two years of hard work, hands-on experience and coaching from hard-charging professors were put to the test last summer during an internship at a mid-sized New Orleans law firm.

At the firm, Mason worked alongside interns from big-name law schools such as Louisiana State University, Vanderbilt and Tulane. She got to combine her classroom knowledge and the practical tips she'd received from her professors about work ethic and expectations in the practice of law with the experience she received in clinics where she and her classmates worked with real clients.

Her hard work--and experience--paid off. She was offered a job as an associate at the firm upon graduation in May. The other interns got a pat on the back.

As graduating law students go, Mason is one of the fortunate ones.

These are tough times for the law profession. Employment prospects are the weakest they have been in decades. Wages have stagnated. Many blue chip law firms have laid off lawyers or are hiring fewer lawyers.

Lately, law schools have been accused of luring students with false promises of cushy, high-paying jobs. There have been accusations of law schools doctoring employment statistics of their recent graduates, many of them saddled with debt that in some cases exceeds $150,000. Some people are re-examining the value of a law education, and some schools are already seeing a dip in enrollment.

But for the nation's six historically Black law schools these bleak times are an opportunity to highlight their individual niches and strengths. While several deans say the economic downturn has had some impact on their graduates, they say they have continued to reshape their curriculum and graduation requirements in order to make their students more competitive in the marketplace. They say they continue to adhere to their historical missions, which vary from school to school but many of which include: having a social justice mission, attracting more people of color to the legal profession, preparing students for careers in public agencies or public interest law and ensuring that their students are ready to practice law upon graduation. The public HBCU law schools tout their low tuition rates, which in turn lead to low debt loads upon graduation.

No HBCU law schools are ranked in the top tier. In fact, most are considered fourth tier law schools. But in response to the turbulent economy, many of the HBCU law schools have tried to continue to balance the classroom experience by introducing a variety of clinics that are relevant to the changing needs of a changing population, such as foreclosures, veteran's issues, immigration and international adoptions.

At Southern University Law Center, faculty and career placement officers work closely in coaching students on networking and interviewing techniques and strategies for being successful in the courtroom and the workplace, according to Chancellor Freddie Pitcher.

Many HBCU law schools are about 50 percent African-American, and students say they find the atmosphere welcoming and more conducive to their success.

Katrice Peterson, a third-year law student at Florida A&M University Law School, which is in Orlando, says she's found the environment there nurturing and the professors approachable. Before enrolling, she says, she and her mother toured the school.

"It felt like a tight, close-knit environment," says Peterson, a graduate of Vanderbilt. "I had visited the University of Kentucky but didn't get the same warmth that I had at FAMU."

Law school deans insist that the stories of their schools are unique, that they have different missions and different kinds of students.

"It's really important when looking at HBCU law schools not to paint us with the same brush," says Kurt Schmoke, dean of Howard University's law school. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Social Justice: Historically Black Law Schools Stick to Their Original Mission While Modifying Curriculums to Remain Relevant during Tough Economic Times
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.