March 2, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 11

current issue
archive / search
Chronicle RSS Feed

    Diversity in the Law career exploration day to introduce students to legal network

    By Rob McManamy
    News Office

    Barry Fields (J.D., ’91)

    Building on the success of its popular Diversity on LaSalle Street program for students of color interested in business careers, the University’s Office of Career Advising & Planning Services will launch a new tradition for undergraduates considering the legal profession.

    On Friday, March 3, CAPS and its counterparts from 10 other Midwest universities will host the first-ever “Diversity in the Law” program for second- through- fourth-year students who are contemplating law school and a legal career.

    The all-day, multischool event will take place at various downtown locations and allow undergraduates from all of the participating universities to meet with representatives of over a dozen organizations including Chicago law firms and not-for-profit agencies. The day will conclude with a law school fair at the University’s Gleacher Center, where prospective students can visit with representatives of 14 Midwest law schools.“CAPS is committed to providing our students with as many career exploration opportunities as we can,” explained Liz Michaels, Director of CAPS for the University. “After speaking with the Office of Minority Student Affairs, and with representatives from the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis it became clear that a program designed for students of color interested in law school and the field of law was a necessary one.”

    For its part, OMSA is thrilled. “Law is one of the fields many students of color at the University have identified as a potential professional career,” said Ana Vasquez, Director of OMSA and Deputy Dean of Students in the University. “This program allows interested students to explore the field in depth, so we are excited to be one of the sponsoring departments.”

    Similarly, the Law School also sees great value in the practical application of the program. “This is the type of program that gives students a ‘real life’ look at a career in law,” noted Ann Perry, Assistant Dean of Admissions for the Law School. “It will help develop a diverse applicant pool and allow the students to meet with a number of different law schools’ admissions representatives to discover the types of programs that they offer. It should be a very educational day.”

    Other participating universities include Notre Dame University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, Northwestern and DePaul universities.

    “Kirkland & Ellis has long believed that having a diverse legal profession is vitally important to society,” said Barry Fields, a litigation partner at Kirkland and a 1991 graduate of the University’s Law School. An African-American, Fields will deliver the event’s keynote address. “By participating in innovative programs such as ‘Diversity in the Law,’ we hope to encourage college students of different races and ethnic backgrounds to consider joining the legal profession,” he added.

    In addition to Kirkland & Ellis, 19 other Chicago law firms and not-for-profit agencies will participate, including Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw; Greenberg Traurig; Sonnenschein; Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood; Gardner, Carton, & Douglas LLP; Tressler, Soderstrom, Maloney & Priess. The American Civil Liberties Union; the Heartland Alliance; the Chicago Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; and Northwestern University’s Bluhm Legal Clinic, among others, will represent the not-for-profit sector.

    “I’m very excited by the caliber of law firms and nonprofit organizations that are taking part in this year’s program, as well as the many law school admissions departments that will be on hand to speak with students at the conclusion of the day,” added Michaels. “I’m confident that this will be a very positive experience for our students.”

    The day’s events will begin with a presentation from U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly at the offices of Mayer Brown, followed by visits to other participating law firms. Lunch will be served in the Mid-America Club, with Fields’ keynote address. The day will conclude with a reception and law school admissions fair at the nearby Gleacher Center.