On February 25th, 2023, seven students from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Political Science/Prelaw Group visited the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee. The law school hosted a Diversity & Prelaw Day, where students from around the country were allowed to tour the law school campus, engage with administrators, students, and faculty, and learn more about the legal education program at the University of Memphis.
The UAPB group included Henry Brooks IV, Political Science/Prelaw Instructor and Advisor, and seven students, Kiya Anderson, a senior majoring in social sciences/political science); Inari Mack, a junior majoring in biology; Shaunia McFarlane, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice; Ky’Lik Rich, a junior majoring in social sciences/political science; Victoria Runnells, a sophomore majoring in social sciences/political science; Jmya Smith, a junior majoring in social sciences/political science and Alana Young, a senior majoring in social sciences/political science.
The UAPB Political Science/Prelaw students were able to meet and speak with Katherine Schaffzin, Dean of the law school, and the host, Ms. Jacqueline O’Bryant, Interim Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion. After breakfast and registration, the students discussed preparing for law school with Ebony Dawkins, Assistant Professor of Teaching, Internship Coordinator, and Undergraduate Advisor. Ms. Dawkins provided students with valuable insight into obstacles and opportunities students will face in pursuing a legal education. In addition, as an academic advisor, she served as a valuable source of information on specific skills and habits students can develop during their undergraduate studies that will be useful during law school.
After a brief break, students heard about the application process from Sue Anne McClellan, the Assistant Dean of Law Admissions, Scholarships, and Recruiting, and Joanna Darden, Assistant Director for Law Admissions. Ms. Darden also discussed financial aid, scholarships, student loans and how the total cost of attending law school was not simply tuition, fees, and books but also living expenses. This discussion was highlighted by the relatively modest cost of attending the University of Memphis School of Law versus other more costly institutions.
Before lunch, Demetria Frank, Professor and Visiting Herff Chair of Excellence took students through a mock law class using a preassigned legal case. Weeks before the Prelaw Day, students received a guide on how to read a legal opinion (HOW TO READ A LEGAL OPINION A GUIDE FOR NEW LAW STUDENTS by Orin S. Kerr, 2017) and a legal case Garratt v. Dailey, to prepare for the mock law class. Professor Frank did an excellent job demonstrating what information students should have extracted from the legal case and how they should think about certain legal concepts.
The law school provided a wonderful Memphis barbecue lunch where students continued discussing the case, relaxed, and networked with administrators, presenters, current law students, faculty, and other students visiting during the Diversity and Prelaw Day.
After lunch, students were able to listen to two panels. The first panel consisted of current law students who gave candid accounts of the triumphs and difficulties of life as a law student. The second panel included University of Memphis School of Law alumni who talked about life after law school and their different paths after law school. Afterward, our students shared their plans and heard how they compared to those students and graduates. Once the panels were over, students took guided tours of the law school before boarding the van to return to Pine Bluff.
UAPB Political Science/Prelaw Instructor and Advisor Henry Brooks IV said, “The trip, which included a travel grant from the UAPB Office of the Vice Chancellor of Institutional Advancement, was a success. Since returning, we have discussed the experience, and students have a favorable view of the law school and their time visiting during the Diversity and Prelaw Day. Students reported feeling welcomed and that all involved were genuinely interested in their decision to choose UofM. The cost of attendance, proximity to courts and law firms, and the location (Memphis, Tennessee) were all factors that made the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law attractive to our students.”