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CLEO Helps Law Students See the Future

MU and CLEO provide a six-week pre-law institute

June 27, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan Daniels, 573-882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — After years of hard work, writing personal statements and studying for the LSAT, the dream of getting into law school can be one of the most competitive tasks a new graduate can undertake. With help from the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) and the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, 39 minority and disadvantaged students are one step closer to pursuing their dreams.

CLEO, a non-profit project to enhance diversity within American law schools and the legal profession, and MU are collaborating to provide a six-week pre-law summer institute. It runs through July 13. Designed to evaluate the students' capacity for learning and acclimate them to the law school process, the curriculum is taught by full-time MU law professors and simulates the rigors of the first year of law school.

"For those students who may not have been admitted to law school because of their academic indicators, their GPA and LSAT test scores, the program will evaluate them and hopefully show that numbers are not always an accurate predictor of students' ability," said Donna Pavlick, assistant dean of MU's law school.

Students from around the county were selected based on a personal statement and application process. During their time at MU, the participants will attend pre-law classes, guest lectures and community service projects and get faculty feedback. Over the program's 39-year history, more then 90 percent of the students who attend the institute enter law school.

"I'm confident that this program will prepare me for law school due to the dedication of the faculty and the dean," CLEO participant Shameka Simmons said. "Everyone has extended themselves beyond compare and has been a great deal of help."

Pavlick is hopeful that the students will not only leave ready for the tough coursework of law school, but also will get something out of the program they had not intended.

"My main goal is to prepare these students academically and help get them into law school, but I also hope they will leave as 'goodwill' ambassadors to Missouri and MU," Pavlick said. "Many of these students come from very urban areas; hopefully coming here will get them out of their comfort zones and experience something different.'