Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School (BYU Law) and the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law (Utah Law) today announced a collaboration with leading Utah law firms to create the Achievement Fellowships Program. Under this program, students will receive full-tuition awards and access to mentorship activities to attract, recognize and support students who have qualified for admission to law school in the face of significant challenges or hardships.
Durham Jones & Pinegar, Greenberg Traurig, Kirton McConkie, Snell & Wlmer, Strong & Hanni, and Parsons, Behle & Latimer have already committed to support the program, and more firms are expected to join. Thanks to funding from the firms, recipients of the Achievement Fellowship will receive full tuition for each of three academic years beginning with students entering fall 2021. In addition to funding tuition, the firms have committed to mentoring the Achievement Fellows.
“We are grateful that the Utah legal community is making this tangible investment in the diversity of Utah’s law student population as we seek to address problems of social injustice and systemic racism close to home,” said D. Gordon Smith, dean of BYU Law. “Socioeconomic hardship should never be a barrier for bright, aspiring law students. As home to two of the country’s top law schools, and a burgeoning legal and tech community, Utah has a responsibility to foster future legal professionals. We believe this program will broaden the state’s appeal to prospective candidates and enhance the quality of law practiced in Utah.”
“Utah Law is excited to partner with BYU Law and these Utah law firms to launch the Achievement Fellows Program,” said Elizabeth Kronk Warner, dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law. “This program will undoubtedly encourage more students from historically underrepresented groups to choose the State of Utah as a destination for law school, elevating professional opportunities for deserving individuals and enhancing the practice of law here in the Beehive State.”
This program provides the Achievement Fellows with the opportunity to interact with leading law firms while enabling the firms to broaden their commitment to diversity and mentorship. “We are honored to join BYU Law and Utah Law to help roll out this new initiative,” said Lee A. Wright, president of Kirton McConkie, which was the first firm to pledge its commitment to this important new program. “We see a social responsibility to take action toward diversification, and we look forward to this opportunity to broaden our firm’s diversity initiatives and law practice.”
In granting these Achievement Fellowships, the law schools will consider a broad spectrum of life challenges, including socioeconomic disadvantage, disability, being the first in their family to attend college, attending under-resourced schools or status as an immigrant or former refugee. Hardships such as homelessness, living in foster care, working multiple jobs or long hours in high school or college, or living in a family struggling with poverty, incarceration, abandonment, physical or mental health issues and/or substance abuse are examples of the types of disadvantages that may be considered when selecting recipients of these awards. In all cases, the reviewing committee will be looking for evidence of personal growth, initiative, perseverance and character development.