LSAC Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program

LSAC Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program at Heritage University

female student sits at a picnic table on campus

Are you a college student or recent graduate living in Central Washington who dreams of becoming a lawyer, but aren’t sure where to start? Are you searching for a rewarding way to help and serve the community you call home?

There is now a program designed specifically to help make your dream a reality.

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program at Heritage University is an innovative partnership among Washington’s three law schools – Seattle University School of Law, University of Washington School of Law, and Gonzaga University School of Law – and Heritage University in Central Washington. It aims to make a law degree more accessible to diverse students, especially Latino/Latina/Latinx and Indigenous students.

Our objective is to expand your horizons by helping you realize that gaining entrance to law school and launching a legal career are achievable goals. By the end of the program, you will have a much better understanding of what it takes to apply to and become accepted by a law school, thrive as a law student, and work as a lawyer. In the process, you will make valuable connections with diverse attorneys and judges in your community who are invested in your future success.


Eligibility

Created for diverse rising sophomore, junior, and senior college students or recent college graduates (no more than 3 years out) in the Central Washington region who have an interest in learning about and pursuing a career in law. First priority will be given to Heritage University students and graduates.

Application Process
Program Dates
  • The program consists of two sessions
  • Summer 2022 Session – June 14-30 (3 weeks)
  • Fall 2022 Session – (October 4-6)
  • Sessions will be held during late afternoons and evenings Tuesday through Thursday to enable students to work at jobs in the mornings.
Location
  • All program sessions will be held on the campus of Heritage University, located in Toppenish, Washington.
  • Exception includes optional field trips to Washington law schools.
Purpose

Funded by a grant from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the primary objective of the LSAC PLUS Program is to create a pipeline of diverse students from Central Washington who will enroll in law school and then return home to practice.

Historically, Central Washington does not have sufficient lawyers, particularly racially and ethnically diverse lawyers, to serve the legal needs of its people and the community. Providing this opportunity to area students will help address the critical shortage of diverse lawyers in the region, thus enhancing access to justice for the clients and communities they will serve.

Program Description
  • The primary element will be an intensive, three-week summer program, held on the Heritage University campus.
  • Key aspects of the program are designed to help students envision themselves as lawyers, with a visit by several Washington Supreme Court justices, a mock law school class, roundtable discussions with leaders of minority bar associations, mentoring by community lawyers and judges, and modules that provide helpful information to demystify the application process and the law school experience.
  • Students can also choose to visit one of the Washington law schools.
  • A shorter, follow-up program will take place in October.
  • Students who successfully complete the program will receive a $1,000 stipend and a certificate of completion.

Schedule and Tentative Curriculum

(subject to change)

  • Module A Participant Introductions (ice-breaker exercise), Program Overview, & Beginning Exploration (e.g., what careers are you considering and why, what intrigues you about/dissuades you from law, do you know any lawyers?)
  • Module B “You Belong Here/We Need You: Envisioning Yourself as a Lawyer,” individual narratives presented by diverse individuals from around the state who grew up in Central Washington and took different paths to become practicing lawyers and judges
  • Module C “Building on Your Strengths: Nurturing a Growth Mindset, Wellness Habits, and Professional Formation”
  • Module D “Knowledge is Power: Survival Techniques for Confronting and Responding to Stereotype Threat, Impostor Syndrome, and Bias Incidents”
  • Module E “Critical Race Theory: What Is It, Where Did It Come From, and Why Does It Matter?” and “Finding an Antiracist and Inclusive Law School Home”
  • Module F “An Evening with Chief Justice Steven González and Justices Mary Yu and Raquel Montoya Lewis of the Washington Supreme Court” (topic TBD)
  • Module G “The Law School Experience,” including structure of law school curricula and co-curricular, extra-curricular, pro bono, and experiential opportunities
  • Module H Individual Meetings/Mentoring Sessions with Central Washington Legal Aid/Community Lawyer Mentors
  • Module I “Lawyers as Change Agents”: Impact Litigation Case Study of Farmworker-Focused Advocacy, presented by NJP and CLS attorneys
  • Module J “It Takes a Village: Building Your Family, Emotional, Cultural, Financial, Academic, and Community Support Systems”
  • Module K “You Got This!”: Participation in a Mock 1L Law School Class, followed by a deconstruction/decoding of the teaching goals and expectations in the law school classroom and a presentation on the structure of law school curricula
  • Module L “The Access to Justice Gap in Washington State and The Critical Role Lawyers Play in Society”
  • Module M Afternoon Field Trip to one of the NJP, CLS, TeamChild, or NWIRP legal services offices in Central Washington
  • Module N Interactive Project: “Creating a Future Lawyers for Justice Student Group”
  • Module O Roundtable Discussion on “Driving Diversity and Inclusion within Legal Education & the Legal Profession,” with leaders of the Washington State Minority & Justice Commission and statewide Minority Bar Organizations (e.g., Loren Miller Bar Association (black lawyers), Latina/o Bar Association of Washington, and the Northwest Indian Bar Association)
  • Module P “Lawyers as Change Agents”: Impact Litigation Case Study: Yakima County Redistricting Case
  • Module Q “Wrestling the Beast: The Law School Admission Test Explained,” and “Nuts and Bolts of the Law School Admission Process”
  • Module R “Social Justice Movie Night and Discussion,” hosted and facilitated by diverse law school faculty members
  • Module S “Financial Planning for Law School,” followed by individual one-on-one counseling sessions with pre-law advisors and/or law school admission counselors

Modules scheduled for a day in July or during fall semester (date(s) to be determined):

  • Module T+U Day-long Field Trip to Seattle U Law, UW Law, or Gonzaga Law to meet with diverse law faculty, minority student leaders, attend a 1L class, and tour the law school facility (Optional Activity)
  • Module V Interactive session between the law schools, civil legal aid organizations, and the students to explore what the students see as barriers for them to enter into the legal profession and soliciting their ideas for solutions
  • Module W Dinner with community mentors, discussion around “Envisioning Yourself as a Lawyer (Revisited)” and “Leaving Home and Coming Back”
  • Module X Reflections, Graduation, and Final Survey/Interview Assessment

Partner organizations

In addition to Washington’s three law schools, Heritage University, and LSAC, the program was developed in partnership with several legal services organizations, which first identified the critical and longstanding need for more homegrown lawyers drawn from Central Washington:

  • Northwest Justice Project
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • Columbia Legal Services
  • TeamChild
  • Benefits Law Center
  • Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA)

These organizations will be integrally involved in designing and implementing the pipeline program. They will also help provide the critically important connection to practicing lawyers and judges, as well as insights on the access to justice gap in rural communities and the urgent need for lawyers who are more representative of their clients and communities.


This program received funding from the Law School Admission Council, Inc. (LSAC) The opinions and conclusions contained in this document are the opinions and conclusions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of LSAC.