UC Law SF Joins Cal LAW Pathways Program to Help Diversify Legal Field

Ruthe Catolico Ashley of Cal LAW, UC Law SF Assistant Chancellor & Dean Jenny Kwon, and UC Law SF Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Mario Lopez celebrated the signing of a new partnership agreement in February.

As part of its ongoing efforts to advance diversity in the legal profession, UC College of the Law San Francisco has teamed up with a statewide program to help make legal careers more accessible to groups who are underrepresented in the field.

UC Law San Francisco signed a partnership agreement on Feb. 10 with the California Leadership Access Workforce (Cal LAW) Pathways, a program developed by the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness with support from the Law School Admission Council.

“It is an honor to represent UC Law San Francisco as we join other California law schools in committing to increasing access to law school for all Californians,” said Jenny Kwon, Assistant Chancellor & Dean at UC Law San Francisco. “I am moved by the stories of the students in this impactful program.”

The agreement was signed at the Cal LAW annual summit and awards ceremony hosted this year by USC Gould School of Law in Los Angeles. Former California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and State Senator Richard Roth were among those in attendance.

“This new partnership will help give students in our state who traditionally haven’t had access to law school for one reason or another an opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming lawyers,” said June Sakamoto, Dean of Enrollment Management at UC Law San Francisco.

Established in 2015, Cal LAW aspires to make the legal profession reflect the diversity of California’s population. The program builds pipelines to guide diverse students from high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions into law schools and law-related careers.

“UC Law San Francisco is thrilled to join California LAW Pathways and to support its efforts to diversify the legal field and make law school more accessible to students from diverse backgrounds,” said UC Law SF Chancellor & Dean David Faigman.

Cal LAW Pathways partners with 25 high schools, 29 community colleges, and 15 undergraduate universities to help open doors to the legal profession and law-related careers for underrepresented groups. UC Law San Francisco is the 11th law school to partner with Cal LAW.

The new partnership is just one component of UC Law San Francisco’s broader efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) on campus. Among other student centered-programs, UC Law San Francisco has a Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP) and a First Generation Program, both of which provide resources and support for students from diverse backgrounds and to those who have faced barriers to higher education.

“We not only want to welcome our extraordinary students to campus, we want to make sure they are supported while they are here,” said Mario Ernesto Lopez ’15, Director of DEI Initiatives at UC Law San Francisco.

Among current first-year JD students at UC Law SF, 20% are the first in their families to attend college and 54.5% identify as students of color. At a campus-wide DEI forum in January, Faigman said he would continue to work towards a faculty and student body that reflects the greater community.

Lopez said the law school’s new partnership with Cal LAW Pathways advances that goal and more, “I’m excited for our school to work with our Cal LAW Pathways partners in making the legal profession a more diverse and inclusive profession in the most diverse state in our country.