DENVER — A Colorado law school pipeline aims to make the legal field as diverse as the people who need representation.
According to the American Bar Association, just over 14 percent of attorneys in the U.S. were lawyers of color as recently as 2020.
Law School… Yes We Can! targets high-achieving college freshmen from diverse backgrounds and offers mentorship and training for four years.
The program interested Gregory Abukar-Duru, a junior at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He is now a fellow for Law School… Yes We Can!
“It's gratifying. It feels like I'm doing the right things,” said Abukar-Duru. “And it feels like I've been guided in the right ways.”
Abukar-Duru grew up with a front seat to the legal system. His father was deported to Somalia before he was born. After that, his mother dealt with custody issues surrounding his little sister.
“It's very stressful, especially seeing, like, your parental figure who you kind of see as being strong and unbeatable just been stressing about going to court,” said Abukar-Duru.
Abukar-Duru realized he wanted to make a difference for people who rely on the legal system like his mother did. He also noticed that not many people in the legal profession looked like him.
According to the American Bar Association, “racial ethnic diversity in the legal profession is necessary to demonstrate that our laws are being made and administered for the benefit of all persons.”
“It's really important to get students of color in from underrepresented communities into our legal system so that, you know, even young students can see their representation in the legal field,” said Dr. Kimberle Jackson-Butler, executive director of Law School... Yes We Can!
The program provides stipends for students to attend nationally recognized LSAT prep courses and connects them with mentors they can learn from for the rest of their careers.
“[My mentors] gave me great advice on what to do,” said Abukar-Duru. “They're always pushing me in the right direction because I'm doing a lot.”
As Abukar-Duru prepares to apply for law school, he knows he’s not alone.
“Everyone knows each other, one way or the other,” said Abukar-Duru. “It's all connected. And this program really gives you the ability to start connecting early on.”
Law School… Yes We Can! is currently accepting applications. To learn more about the program, click here.