Law school intends to bring back new prelaw program in 2024


Akron Law Prep Week students met over lunch with Brouse McDowell attorneys.

Akron Law Prep Week students met over lunch with Brouse McDowell attorneys.

Following a well-received debut this past May, the Law School’s new prelaw pipeline program Akron Law Prep Week is on track to return next year.

The program is intended for, but not limited to, college students and recent college graduates from racial and ethnic minority groups and other underrepresented groups in the legal profession. Program participants learned about law school, the admissions process and the LSAT. They also met with practicing attorneys and current students and participated in mock classes, social events, and an etiquette lunch, along with LSAT prep support.

“A few judges came to speak, and we visited the courthouse, Akron Bar Association, and the offices of Brouse McDowell,” said Admissions Director Anthony Colucci, who co-led the program with Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Mike Gentithes. “We were able to give the students a good sense of not just Akron Law, but of legal practice in Summit County.”

“I was really grateful to be part of this event,&rdquol; said Khatonia Ford, now a UA senior majoring in criminal justice. “As a first-generation student, I would have been blindsided if I had gone down the law school path without knowing the things I learned at this program. It was especially helpful to talk with current law students and recent grads.”

“The whole week was very thorough,” said Tommy Witschey, who graduated from Ohio University in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. “It provided a good feel for how law school would be, what classes are like, and how good Akron’s program is.”

Akron Law Prep Week is modeled on the Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) program that the School successfully offered from 2018-21 in collaboration with the Law School Admission Council. The four-week PLUS program was open to students from around the country. For the first two years, the students resided on campus. The 2020 and 2021 sessions were 100% virtual due to the pandemic.

“We had a lot of success with the PLUS program, both in getting students from diverse backgrounds interested in the law generally, and then drawing some of them to enroll at Akron Law,” Gentithes said. “We wanted to try to replicate that with Prep Week. We had generous donations from Brouse McDowell and others, and many Akron Law alumni participated along with our faculty and staff.”

The inaugural Prep Week ran Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The commitment proved difficult for some applicants because of jobs, summer school or other obligations. As a result, the Law School is looking to build in more flexibility next year.

Some of the sessions could be online and asynchronous while some of the in-person activities could be scheduled over long weekends. That would allow the program to spread out over multiple weeks and conclude with a capstone experience.

“There will be an evolution of the program, but we're still gathering feedback from our students and thinking over how to provide the best experience,” Gentithes said.

Akron Law Prep Week is part of a broader initiative to increase diversity at the School of Law. For example, in June 2023, the School hosted the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Stephanie Tubbs Summer Legal Adventure. This program is for Northeast Ohio high school students from underrepresented groups who are interested in a career in the law. Akron Law is also one of eight sites for the statewide Law and Leadership Institute. Students enroll prior to ninth grade and continue in the program through the summer following high school.

This winter, the Akron Law began a partnership with AccessLex Institute to broaden access to legal education for promising applicants throuh its LexScholars Post-Baccalaureate Program (LexPostBacc). Program participants are exposed to a yearlong online law school prep curriculum designed to help them thrive as law students.

“We’ve also started working with Akron Municipal Court Judge David Hamilton ‘07, and his Raising the Bar program, which is aimed at encouraging local minority students to consider careers in law, starting as early as middle school,” Gentithes said. “We think we”re going to have a little more success if we can start these pipelines earlier and build interest over time. Our new 3+3 partnership with Central State University is also part of the pipeline strategy.“