NEW YORK, March 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pipeline to Practice Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to diversifying the legal profession, today announced major financial support and participation from McGuireWoods LLP and BARBRI.
Established in 2015, Pipeline to Practice seeks to improve diversity in the legal profession by supporting and nurturing diverse law students and early-career attorneys at key stages of their academic and professional development. Mayra Suarez, an Associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP and Pipeline to Practice Curriculum Committee Chair, describes the Foundation's unique approach for supporting the diversity pipeline:
"Our solution for addressing the lack of diversity in the legal profession is remarkably simple: cultivate exceptional attorneys who also happen to be diverse. We do this by using a two-prong approach that supports the diversity pipeline at critical stages of any attorney's development – one prong that focuses efforts on helping diverse law students excel academically, and another that supports diverse early-stage attorneys during their professional development. By intervening early and helping this generation of diverse law students and attorneys become leaders and decision-makers, we will secure even more opportunities for future generations of diverse attorneys."
Pipeline to Practice identifies diverse law students who are about to begin their legal studies and provides them with free access to programming and mentoring throughout law school. Suarez explains, "With respect to the students we support, our goal is to provide opportunities that will allow them to achieve academic excellence, help them develop the skills necessary to be successful attorneys, and guide them towards leadership positions so they can, ultimately, become role models to the next generation of law students."
It is still early, but the Foundation's approach seems to be working. According to a recent survey, about a third of the Foundation's inaugural class earned 1L grades that allowed them to land coveted 2L Summer Associate positions at large international law firms.
Suarez continues, "The Foundation's support is conditioned on its fellows agreeing to 'pay-it-forward' by assisting other diverse law students who follow in their footsteps and enter law school. We hope to foster a culture among the diverse attorneys we touch that encourages them to 'leave the ladder down' and assist subsequent generations to excel both academically and professionally."
Paras Shah, a legally-blind 2L student at Harvard Law School who was a member of the Foundation's inaugural class of entering students in 2016, says, "I would not be where I am today without Pipeline to Practice and the resources it continues to provide me." Among other benefits, Shah received complimentary participation in BARBRI Law Preview, the leading law school prep course for entering students, after being accepted into the scholarship program.
He explains, "I finished 1L at UC Irvine in the top 5 percent of my class which allowed me to transfer to Harvard Law School and obtain a Summer Associate position in O'Melveny & Myers' Newport Beach office. I look forward to paying (my experience) forward by mentoring the next cohort of Pipeline to Practice Fellows, providing them with access to the same opportunities I have enjoyed."
The Foundation's second prong focuses on supporting young, diverse attorneys who are passionate about promoting diversity in the legal profession. Its Board of Directors is comprised entirely of diverse attorneys working at Fortune 500 companies and associated with the world's largest law firms. Aside from the obvious business networking opportunities that Board service offers these young attorneys, volunteers develop skills that help them understand how their clients begin and manage their businesses -- making them better lawyers.
According to Suarez, "This is where the Foundation truly distinguishes itself from other pipeline organizations. Over the past two years, our Board members have used their skills, talents and sweat equity to build Pipeline to Practice from scratch. They've done everything from drafting our mission statement, overseeing P2P's incorporation, obtaining not-for-profit tax treatment from the IRS, designing our website, and selecting and mentoring the first two groups of scholarship recipients."
Matthew Iwamaye, Assistant General Counsel and Vice President at Bank of America and Pipeline to Practice Executive Board Member, describes the impact of his service with the Foundation:
"I truly feel as though my participation on the Pipeline to Practice board has benefited me just as much as the law students we seek to support. Professionally, Pipeline to Practice has allowed me to work closely with other attorneys who, like me, are motivated to improve diversity in the legal profession - expanding my professional network in the process and helping me to learn how fellow diverse attorneys have successfully paved their ways in the legal profession."
Pipeline to Practice's efforts have not gone unnoticed. International law firm McGuireWoods recently became the latest organization to pledge significant monetary support; McGuireWoods has also agreed to provide educational opportunities that will allow Pipeline to Practice fellows to enter the job market fully prepared. Noreen Kelly, Managing Partner of McGuireWoods' New York City office, explains the firm's motivation for extending support to the Foundation:
"What excited us about working with Pipeline to Practice is the opportunity to work alongside motivated young attorneys who are using their talents to address the legal diversity issue head-on. While we were happy to provide financial support, the opportunities to leverage our firm's personnel and resources in order to help better position the next generation of diverse lawyers was what really appealed to us."
McGuireWoods Chairman Jon Harmon added, "Programs that nurture and develop talented and diverse law students early on create better opportunities for the legal profession to invest in a more diverse future. McGuireWoods is honored to help Pipeline to Practice in its efforts to mentor and support diverse law students as part of our firm's own commitment to diversity and inclusion."
In 2018, McGuireWoods will be hosting two educational webinars as well as "mock" interviews exclusively for Pipeline to Practice fellows.
Law school applicants who are planning to begin their legal studies in 2018 and meet the Foundation's scholarship criteria, are encouraged to submit an application for a Pipeline to Practice Scholarship: https://pipelinetopractice.org/students/ . Law Firms and companies who would like to get involved and support Pipeline to Practice Foundation by pledging human capital, in-kind professional services or financial support can do so by visiting Pledge Form: https://pipelinetopractice.org/#support
About Pipeline to Practice
The Pipeline to Practice Foundation, Inc. is a 501(3)(c) nonprofit that is committed to enhancing diversity in the legal profession by supporting and nurturing diverse law students and early-career attorneys at key stages of their academic and professional development. Pipeline to Practice helps prepare students and early-stage attorneys for the challenges of law school and practice by providing them with access to programming and mentors. The purpose is not simply to "level the playing field"; rather, it is to tilt in favor of diverse law students by helping them acquire knowledge and skills that will make them more attractive candidates for employment and, ultimately, leadership roles in the profession. Diverse law students planning to enter law school in the fall can find the scholarship application here:https://pipelinetopractice.org/students/
About McGuireWoods LLP
McGuireWoods LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 1,000 lawyers in 23 offices worldwide. It ranks among the top three law firms in Financial Times' prestigious North America Innovative Lawyers report. The firm has been recognized 12 times on BTI Consulting's "Client Service A-Team" — elite firms singled out for client service excellence based on unprompted feedback from clients in major companies. Its full-service public affairs arm, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC, offers infrastructure and economic development, strategic communications and grassroots advocacy, and government relations solutions. For more information, visit www.mcguirewoods.com.
CONTACT: Cindy Parks, [email protected]