In our first Letter of the Law of 2021 we focus on how our college's Lawtina Mentoring Program helps open new possibilities for Latina BA in Law students at the University of Arizona.
Until the footnotes,
Lawtina Mentoring Program Makes Law School 
More Accessible for Latinas

 Jess Findley speaks at a reception celebrating the 
Lawtina Mentoring Program

Entering college, Stephanie Guereque didn't know a single person who worked in the legal profession. The first-generation college student majoring in Law and Spanish at the University of Arizona had her sights set on becoming an attorney. But without any professional connections, she says,

"My dream of going to law school seemed far away and maybe at times inaccessible."
So, in spring 2020, Stephanie joined 18 of her peers in the inaugural cohort of University of Arizona Law's Lawtina Mentoring Program for Latina BA in Law students. 

Stephanie Guereque

And now?

Stephanie shares,

"After taking this course and seeing how successful [our mentors] are, along with the other amazing women I met on the way, I am beyond excited for law school. I met some amazing people who work in this field."
Launched off the success of the BA in Law program, which offers rigorous training in core law subjects for undergraduates, Arizona Law introduced the Lawtina Mentoring Program to provide Latina BA in Law students with a more engaging educational experience through additional support and preparation for law school.
"Advising and mentoring are critical to success of students from underrepresented backgrounds in discipline-specific academics," says Jess Findley (JD '06, MA '09, Ph.D '10), director of the program and a research fellow at Arizona Law. 

The Lawtina network includes number of Arizona Law alumni and local practitioners who are connecting with students and serving as mentors. Jess explains,

"By using a mentorship network that includes peers, professional contacts, and shadowing, the program aims to help students develop professional identities and grow legal skills so they can successfully navigate the path to becoming a lawyer."
Students participate in the program as part of a one-unit course and receive individual mentoring and instruction on topics such as goal setting, free LSAT/GRE prep, financial and personal wellness, and admissions. 

The program also has a dedicated student advisor to help students navigate the path to law school. Mentors in the program come from diverse personal and professional backgrounds, and they get to know the students through weekly communication, shadowing, and networking events.

Rya Nelson

Rya Nelson, a spring '20 Lawtina participant who is now a first-year law student at the University of San Francisco School of Law, tells us:

"I am very glad I joined this course because it has given me a lot of insight into law school and what it is actually like to be an attorney.

Joining the Lawtina Mentoring Program was amazing for learning about law as a first-generation student, because I got to begin creating my network of attorneys. I also thoroughly enjoyed being in the program because it helped with relieving some of the stress I was having about law school applications."
Rya, both a first-generation college and law student, says that, through speaking with her mentor in the Lawtina program, she learned about the importance of legal writing and got to practice legal job interviews before even going to law school -- opportunities she didn't have access to on her own.
A Community Approach to Diversifying the Profession
The BA in Law program is well positioned to expand the pool of Latinas pursuing a legal career. Latinas make up about 25% of BA in Law students, compared to only 2% of U.S. lawyers. More broadly, approximately 55% of the BA in Law class is ethnically diverse, and more than 60% of the students are female.
As the legal profession seeks to diversify, initiatives like the Lawtina Mentoring Program aim to be a bridge to underrepresented student populations.
The program's first year was funded by the AccessLex Institute and was created through on-campus and community collaborations. Latina lawyers responded to a survey about what would have helped them in pursuing a JD and participated in the program by speaking on panels. Members of Arizona Law's faculty and administration provided course content. Counselors in the athletics department who were experienced with goal-setting and motivational interviewing created the mentor training program.
The Lawtina Mentoring Program aligns with the University of Arizona's broader efforts to support Hispanic students. In 2018, the University of Arizona became a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), a federal designation that acknowledges colleges and universities with 25% or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent student enrollment. 

In 2019, Arizona was among nine higher education institutions to receive the inaugural Seal of Excelencia for demonstrating intentional impact and positive results in Latino student success.
Marla Franco, assistant vice provost for HSI Initiatives, provided the Lawtina Mentoring Program with guidance during its development stages. She says,
"The Lawtina Mentoring Program is a great example of the investment and commitment that a college can make, in collaboration with Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives, to truly serve students from diverse backgrounds. 

I witnessed firsthand how the students in this program felt affirmed, were given tools and resources to more closely examine their career interests, and were connected to an amazing group of diverse mentors who were practicing law in various capacities throughout the greater Tucson community. This was such an enriching experience for students!"   
The Lawtina Mentoring Program will resume for its second year in spring 2021. For more information, including ways to financially support the program, contact Jess Findley here

Around the College

Arizona Law Faculty to Speak at AALS Annual Meeting

Seven of Arizona Law's faculty members are participating speakers at the Association of American Law Schools' (AALS) Annual Meeting, being held remotely this week, January 5-9. 

Although the event is not open to the public, here is a run-down of the topics that our faculty will address during the event. It's a great snapshot of our faculty scholarship and expertise being shared with colleagues from across the country.

Stacy Butler 
Director, Innovation for Justice and Professor of Practice. Session: "AALS Hot Topic Program: Breaking News in U.S. Legal Regulatory Reform"

Bashar Malkawi
Global Professor of Practice in Law. 
Session: "East Asian Responses to Crises -- Pandemics, Trade, Climate, and Beyond"

Marc Miller
Dean and Ralph W. Bilby Professor of Law. 
Breakout Session on "Financial Issues: Developing New Revenue Streams" (facilitator)

Barak Orbach

Tara Sklar
Professor of Health Law and Director, Health Law & Policy Program. Session:
"Intersectionality, Aging, and the Law"

Priya Sundareshan
Director, National Resource Use & Management Clinic. Session: "Exploring the Role of State and Local Government Laws in Environmental Sustainability"


Join the Bear Down Network!

Whether you need to create your profile or you are a current user, there is so much waiting for you on the Bear Down Network.

  • Communicate with Wildcats through various opportunities: Cat Chats and Mentorships
  • Make connections with Wildcats through an alumni directory and groups
  • Stay informed with university news and events
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  • Bring your community with you wherever you go with the mobile app

In the News

NBC News, referencing research by Arizona Law's Innovation for Justice Program
The New York Times, quoting professor Toni Massaro
Salon, authored by professor Robert Glennon
Arizona Public Media, featuring professor Tara Sklar
Appellate Advocacy Blog, authored by professor Tessa Dysart

There is so much to say about lessons from the year just ended, and hopes and challenges for the year to come.
The exciting Lawtina program, brilliantly led by Jess Findley as she draws on her training as a lawyer and her doctorate in psychology, illustrates many things: our commitment to diversifying and expanding the legal profession; how a law school builds on the strength of the UA as an HSI; and how our BA in Law embodies curricular and professional innovation.
The Lawtina program and our strong faculty presence at the annual AALS meeting remind us that life and work go on even as we continue to navigate these extraordinary times. Here is the message I sent to staff and faculty on December 31, under the subject line, "Begone, 2020." 
Dear Colleagues,
As we dispose of the old year and welcome the new, I want to express my profound personal thanks to each of you.
In the maelstrom that was this year, to simply keep things running safely in the middle of a global health crisis would have been a worthy accomplishment.
You did so much more than that.
Besides responding to COVID head on, you managed to sustain our core duties, and get so much done - educating and caring for our students, producing significant scholarship and sustaining a scholarly community, and launching new programs and initiatives.
I hope you have found peace and time to recharge over the break. I hope the news yesterday from President Robbins about the early end to the furlough and paycut program, and the prospects for vaccine distribution in the coming months, provide some additional hope for a better new year, and beyond.
I miss our community gatherings over the holidays, and the many smaller gatherings, to celebrate and give thanks for what you have done, and what we have.
It will be a while, yet, but I look forward to the time when we can again celebrate, together, and in person.
On the last day of this historic year, please know that your compassion, dedication, and creativity in facing our challenges are the foundation for our continued strength, and our vital essence as we face the challenges of 2021.
I wish each of you a safe, healthy, and happy new year.

I have never looked forward to flipping the calendar so much.  

Marc Signature


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