NCCU School of Law and Memphis School of Law expand diversity and racial initiatives


North Carolina Central University and the University of Memphis are both expanding diversity and racial initiatives at their law schools. 

In Tennessee, the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law has partnered with Bass, Berry & Sims PLC to create a new diversity program for high school and undergraduate students who are considering a career in law. 

“We are committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive law school environment by pursuing initiatives to increase the access, admission, retention and graduation of diverse students at our campus,” said Memphis Law Dean Katharine Schaffzin. “We are grateful for this partnership with Bass, Berry & Sims to help provide prospective students from historically underrepresented populations with information and financial support for attending our school, as well as professional development guidance to ensure success upon earning their law degrees.”

The program will serve as one of the college’s premier scholarship programs, helping attract diverse students from Tennessee and across the nation to study at Memphis Law, according to the law school. 

Additionally, the Summer Trial Institute at Memphs Law will give high school students a hands-on introduction to the legal field and training of valuable skills. Attorneys from Bass, Berry & Sims will serve as instructors and mentors to high school students who participate in this innovative, two-week program. 

“We are excited to partner with Memphis Law to support and improve access and opportunity for talented, diverse students interested in a career in law,” said Todd Rolapp, managing partner of Bass, Berry & Sims. “It is no secret the legal industry suffers from a lack of diverse representation, and we believe it is our role to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the industry. This program will help forge the path for greater opportunities, starting at the collegiate and high school levels, by providing resources, professional guidance and connections to support entrance into the legal profession.”

In Durham, the North Carolina Central University School of Law has launched the Social Justice and Racial Equality Initiative to provide educational outreach on social justice, anti-racism and other equity concerns.

“NCCU School of Law has been educating social justice advocates for over 80 years, and most of our graduates accept public service positions, so the initiative aligns with our mission,” said Dean Browne Lewis. “With all the turmoil occurring throughout the world, we are using our resources to help bring about a world that is more just and less racist. Our Social Justice and Racial Equality Initiative will help us to achieve that goal.”

As part of the initiative, the law school will collaborate with NCCU’s School of Business on economic empowerment and entrepreneur training projects. The law school will also work with NCCU’s Department of Criminal Justice through its Juvenile Justice Institute.

“We will reach out to our campus health experts, the Durham County Health Department and other relevant community partners to plan a panel discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on people of color as one of our first projects,” Lewis said.

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