Law school pipeline program in central Washington to kick off second year at Heritage University

Law school pipeline program in central Washington to kick off second year at Heritage University


Law school pipeline program in central Washington to kick off second year at Heritage University

Toppenish, Wash. – A program to boost the numbers of people of color serving as lawyers in central Washington is about to begin its second year at Heritage University. The program, funded by a grant from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program, is an innovative partnership between the law schools at Seattle University, the University of Washington and Gonzaga University, and Heritage with the goal of making a law degree more accessible to diverse students, especially Latino and Indigenous students.

To teach specific program topics, the program will host highly acclaimed lawyers, judges, and legal professionals from across Washington state, including:

Stephen C. Gonzalez – chief justice, Washington State Supreme Court
Mary Yu – justice, Washington State Supreme Court
Sonia Rodriguez-True – Yakima County Superior Court
Cesar Torres – Northwest Justice Project Executive Director
Lola Velazquez – attorney, Northwest Justice Project
Derek Red Arrow Frank (Nez Perce) – associate, Stokes Lawrence PLLC
Marta Sandoval – general council, Continental Mills, Inc.
Tony Varona – dean, Seattle University School of Law
Tamara Lawson – dean, University of Washington School of Law

The LSAC PLUS Program kicks off a three-week session on Friday, June 16, 2023, with in-person classes at Heritage three days a week. The program will expand the students’ knowledge and understanding of the legal field. Some of the activities in store for the students include: 1) a mock first-year law student class and mock clinic class; 2) sessions dedicated to explaining the law school admissions process led by admissions staff of each of the three law schools in Washington; 3) seminars preparing students for the Law School Admissions Test as well as drafting personal statements and resumes; 4) a visit to Yakima County Superior Court to observe a mock trial exercise and meet with judges; and 5) individualized law school admissions counseling sessions provided by Washington’s law schools admissions departments. Each LSAC PLUS scholar is paired with a mentor attorney for the duration of the program.

By the end of the program, students will have a better understanding of what it takes to apply to and become accepted by a law school, thrive as a law student, and ultimately a career as a lawyer. Students will make valuable connections with diverse attorneys and judges in their community who are invested in their future success.

Bree R. Black Horse, an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and an attorney with the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in Seattle, is the director of the LSAC PLUS Program at Heritage this year. “This program is vital to achieving the full integration of lawyers from historically excluded and underrepresented communities in our legal system, and to address the critical attorney shortage currently facing central Washington,” said Black Horse. “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the next generation of legal professionals in the Yakima Valley.”

Kimberley Bellamy-Thompson, chair of the Social Science department at Heritage, is excited over the response to Heritage and its partners once again offering the LSAC PLUS Program. “We are honored to help central Washington students envision themselves serving their community as lawyers,” said Bellamy-Thompson. “There certainly is demand for this opportunity, as we have a full cohort of 30 and a long waitlist of students hoping to be part of the program.”

Media are invited to report on the first day of the LSAC PLUS Program, with opportunities to interview students, instructors, and program coordinators. For more information, please contact:

Bree R. Black Horse at (206) 735-0448 or
Kimberly Bellamy-Thompson at (509) 952-7288 or
Davidson Mance, Heritage University media relations coordinator, at (509) 969-6084 or

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