Intensive Summer Program Opens the World of Law to Promising Minority Students

By Ilene Fleischmann

Release Date: February 3, 2012 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- About two dozen college students will spend four weeks on the University at Buffalo campus this summer to learn about the law and legal studies, develop their writing and test-taking skills, and imagine the possibilities of life as an attorney.

The UB Undergraduate Scholars Program is being sponsored jointly by UB Law School, the Minority Bar Association of Western New York and UB's Millard Fillmore College. Underwritten by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), the program will run from June 1 to June 29 this year. It will bring to UB's North Campus rising sophomores and juniors who represent racial minorities underrepresented in the legal profession.

"The goal," says Lillie V. Wiley-Upshaw, UB Law School's vice dean for admissions and financial aid, "is to encourage these academically promising students to consider law school and to help them acquire the tools they'll need to succeed.

"Fewer than 10 percent of all attorneys are people of color," Wiley-Upshaw says, "and that's certainly not representative of our country. As the State of New York's law school, we have a responsibility to help change that in our own region and community."

The three-year commitment for the summer program is being funded with a $300,000 grant from the Law School Admission Council, a national organization that provides services to support the law school admissions process and administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). It was a competitive process and the UB Law School was one of three law schools selected for funding.

Twenty students from Western New York, plus five from Morehouse College in Atlanta, will live in the newly built Greiner Hall during the summer, alongside current UB Law students who will support them in their academic work. Four UB Law faculty members will volunteer their time:

Professor James Wooten will teach a week-long Introduction to Law course, introducing the students to the skills of argumentation.

Associate Professor Michael Halberstam will introduce the students to Civil and Criminal Procedure and introduce the ethical requirements of the legal profession.

Professor Charles Patrick Ewing will teach Evidence and Trial Practice, laying out the rules of evidence and their application in adversarial trial practice.

Professor David Engel will teach Tort Law in Culture and Society, exploring the principles of tort liability for personal injuries.

In addition, the students will be taught the skills of legal analysis, writing and research, for which their teachers will include LAWR staff instructors Johanna Oreskovic and Bernadette Clor; receive intensive coaching on the fundamentals of writing; learn about LSAT test-taking strategies from Barbara Sherk, director of academic support at UB Law; and learn from Wiley-Upshaw how to navigate the law school admissions process.

Students will also have opportunities to network with members of the Minority Bar Association; reflect on the profession through panel discussions of practitioners; hear from distinguished guest speakers, including UB Law School Dean Makau W. Mutua and Buffalo City Court Judge E. Jeannette Ogden; and tour Buffalo's Family Court.

The students also will be hosted by the Hon. Paula L. Feroleto, the Eighth Judicial District Administrative Judge, for a half-day program which will include an actual court session. The UB Undergraduate Scholars Program will culminate in a mock oral argument in which students will try out the skills and knowledge they have gained.

Student participants in the program will be paid a stipend of $900 to help defray lost income from summer employment. Applications are now available and can be found on the law school's website. The application deadline is March 16.For more information, contact the Law School's Admissions Office at 716-645-2907 or

Since its founding in 1887, UB Law School -- the State University of New York system's only law school -- has established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace, wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for hands-on clinical education makes UB Law unique among the nation's premier public law schools.