A new pathway to law school: McGeorge joins program to diversify the legal profession

An aerial view of the Sacramento campus quad. Approximately 20 students are pictured in various locations on the quad. Lots of greenery and trees are visible.

Students at the McGeorge School of Law's campus walk across the quad.

The University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law is building on its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging by joining the California Leadership-Access-Workforce (Cal LAW) Pathways program as one of the program’s institutional partners.

The program aims to establish a pipeline of diverse students from high schools, community colleges, four-year institutions, and law schools into law or law-related careers, so that the legal profession better reflects the society we live in.

“The partnership with California LAW Pathways will open doors to the legal profession and law-related careers for students from marginalized populations,” said Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz. “It is an exciting opportunity for McGeorge to expand how, and to whom, we deliver on our mission of preparing lawyer-leaders who will build a diverse society committed to global justice and to productive, meaningful, careers.”

McGeorge is joining a cohort of 20 high schools, 29 community colleges, 10 universities, and 10 law schools in California that aim to diversify the legal profession. McGeorge joins peer law school institutions in the program, including UCLA, Santa Clara University, and the University of San Diego.

McGeorge will begin accepting prospective students into its Pathway to Law School program in fall 2022.

“We’ve made important strides in making our campus community more diverse and working towards making the legal profession more inclusive and diverse, but when you compare how folks in the legal profession identify themselves and how Californians identify themselves, it’s clear that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Tracy Simmons, Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions, Strategic Diversity Initiatives, and Financial Aid. “Having a role in California LAW Pathways will help McGeorge continue our progress towards creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive legal field.”

Forty-five percent of McGeorge’s Class of 2024 identifies as ethnically or racially diverse. For the second consecutive year, this year’s class of JD students was comprised of a majority of female students.

In 2019, McGeorge was recognized as the No. 7 law school in the nation in terms of having the "Greatest Resources for Minority Students" in the Princeton Review's Best Law Schools rankings.

In addition to joining the California LAW Pathways program, McGeorge is working to increase representation and improve students’ sense of belonging within the law school and the legal profession by:

  • The JD Admissions Office has led pathway events at McGeorge for more than nine years, and actively works to recruit prospective students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).
  • Prior to the pandemic, the JD Admissions Office regularly hosted local elementary, junior high and high school students on campus for a variety of events. Students participated in mock law classes, played mock jurors, participated in Q&A sessions with first-generation and diverse alumni and students.
  • The Faculty at McGeorge unanimously passed a resolution to actively work to become and remain an antiracist institution. The resolution was also supported, nearly unanimously, by McGeorge’s five alumni advisory boards and the McGeorge staff.
  • Over the course of 2020 and 2021, McGeorge School of Law conducted a Diversity Audit of every facet of the law school’s operations to identify opportunities for improvement.
  • McGeorge houses a Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CID) space. Programming from the Center seeks to build community, foster understanding on issues of diversity, and promote an atmosphere of inclusion.
  • McGeorge offers multiple diversity scholarships for students who identify as members of groups, such as veterans, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The law school faculty unanimously supported and raised funds for the establishment of the Faculty Diversity Scholarship in 2015, which is awarded to diverse incoming students. The scholarship demonstrates the faculty’s commitment to the importance of diversity in the student body and the legal profession.
  • McGeorge hosts a variety of diversity events, such as mixers and the Lambda Law Students Association’s annual drag show that raises funds for LGBTQ+ scholarships. Members from all areas of the McGeorge community lead and participate in the annual event.
  • Fellowships, internships, student organizations, and other resources for diverse students are available to law students.
  • The school’s Diversity Affairs Committee and Diversity-Focused Alumni Board both aim to promote a more inclusive legal profession and institution.
  • In June, Simmons was appointed as Assistant Dean of Strategic Diversity Initiatives and Professor Larry Levine was appointed as Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Both are recognized leaders in the diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism space.