The Pipeline to Justice prepares underrepresented students to enter CUNY School of Law and supports them throughout their law school career. The program offers a second chance at admission to CUNY Law to excellent, public interest-focused students whose LSAT scores seem incompatible with their achievements. This novel program, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, was launched in 2006 and demonstrates CUNY School of Law's commitment to provide access to legal education to those from communities underrepresented in the legal profession. In its first year, the Pipeline to Justice program accounted for a 20 percent increase in students of color among the incoming class. Since that time, CUNY Law has been named the second most diverse law school in the nation for both faculty and student diversity.
The Pipeline enriches the student body at CUNY Law by attracting students who have personal and professional accomplishments that resonate with CUNY Law's mission and who are deeply motivated to excel.
Who is part of Pipeline?
Pipeline students come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Some come directly from undergraduate programs, while others have been in the workforce for decades. Pipeline students, like the entire student body at CUNY Law, are incredibly diverse across race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Students who have participated in the Pipeline to Justice program
How It Works
Pipeline participants are selected at the end of the admissions cycle (typically during the summer months) from among those denied admission to CUNY Law and are invited to apply to the program. Students from a CUNY undergraduate program may be accepted to the Pipeline program before applying to the law school.
The program consists of a two-part course designed to help students better prepare for the LSAT exam and for the rigors of law school.
Part I consists of intensive, individualized preparation for the LSAT exam itself. It meets twice a week in the evenings from October to February, as well as for several all-day Saturday sessions. Students receive coaching on test anxiety, self-efficacy skills, and individualized study planning, and take several LSAT practice tests during the course.
Part II is devoted to an in-depth analytic reading and writing component. It meets twice a week from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. for eight weeks, from March through June. Students receive copious written and oral feedback on weekly writing assignments and are expected to revise their papers until they demonstrate graduate level writing ability.
Students who successfully complete the program are admitted to CUNY School of Law.
"The approach taken by the program is exactly what I needed — a structured program with an end goal in a supportive environment and resources available to help one succeed."
As students, Pipeline participants are leaders on campus. Pipeline students have served as the presidents of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and Latin American Law Students Association, as well as president of the Public Interest Law Association and the CUNY Law Review. Pipeline students have also been selected by their graduating classes to speak at commencement.
During the summer, Pipeline students have held legal internships at places such as Legal Aid, the Center for Popular Democracy, the New York State Bar Association Minority Health Law Program, Queens Legal Services, Outten & Golden LLP, and the Federal Community Defender Office. The guidance and support that Pipeline participants receive during the program continues throughout their three years of law school and through the bar exam. They receive mentoring and academic support, and as a result, 83 percent of Pipeline student successfully graduate from CUNY Law.
What People Are Saying About Pipeline
"I realized I am not the only person who has the drive and capability to get into law school but who was hindered by the weight that is put on doing well on standardized tests." — Pipeline participant Pauloma Martinez ('10); raised her LSAT score 13 points after Pipeline
"I really feel like CUNY Law chose me, instead of me choosing the school." — Pipeline participant Ada George ('14)
"Twenty years of experience with students who outperform their standardized test scores, learn new modes of thinking, and become excellent lawyers is all the evidence we needed to start a program designed not only to give students a shot at admission to law school, but also to provide them with the skills they need to excel from day one." — Mary Lu Bilek, Dean of the University of Massachusetts School of Law and former director of the Pipeline program
- Changing the Face of the Legal Profession (Diverse Education, April 16, 2009)
"When placed in a position of struggle, there is nothing better than being surrounded by people who are in the same situation from which you can draw support. The Pipeline to Justice Program does just that. It places you in the midst of people who are all struggling with the same thing and are willing to support each other."
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