Nationwide — Attorney Evangeline M. Mitchell, founder of the event, is celebrating a decade of empowering HBCU students who aspire to be lawyers. Her 10th Annual National HBCU Pre-Law Summit & Law Expo is scheduled to take place this year on Friday, September 22th and Saturday, September 23rd at the University of the District of Columbia, a public land-grant historically Black university, located in the nation’s capital of Washington, DC. The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law serves as the presenting sponsor and is one of only six HBCU law schools in the country.
According to Mitchell, who is a graduate of HBCU Prairie View A&M University (Prairie View, Texas), this pre-law event stands apart because “it is the only one that not only provides the critical law school admissions, preparation and career information that you would expect, but it also openly addresses the unique and additional challenges that HBCU graduates face – particularly when they choose to attend predominantly White law schools and enter the legal profession – one of the least diverse professions.”
This year marks the ten-year anniversary celebrating a decade of impact for this vitally important and groundbreaking summit. It serves as the only major national pre-law event of its kind in the entire country focused specifically on encouraging and empowering students and alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) interested in pursuing the rigorous and demanding path of going to law school and becoming lawyers.
For the past 9 years, students and graduates from HBCUs across the nation have been invited to come together to take part in two intensive power-packed days of speeches, fireside chats, panel discussions, workshops, and networking activities. Attendees are exposed to game-changing information, invaluable resources, and transformational connections that they otherwise may not have access to.
Throughout the years, from 2014 to 2022, the summit has had: 10,599+ registrants, 52 keynote speakers, 166 special guest and guest speakers, 560+ panelists, moderators, advisors, introducers, facilitators and host committee members, 24 honorees, 51 pre-law advisors, 52 attorney networking small group leaders, and 70 partners.
Mitchell comments, “It provides the type of practical advice and wisdom necessary to help aspiring law students mentally prepare for the obstacles they will certainly face so that they know what it takes to overcome them beforehand. Trying to figure things out once they get there is too late and they will start out behind like many of us had to. That is avoidable. At the same time, we make them aware of those existing resources that are available to assist them.”
She says that she wants to ensure every attendee leaves with more than knowledge – but with a circle of support. “We deliberately create opportunities for them to find peer accountability partners and law student and lawyer connections that they can reach out to and build relationships with after the event. The people they meet can become mentors to help them navigate the difficult journey ahead. We constantly reiterate the importance of relationships as an equally important key to success – just as important as working hard and doing well academically. They can’t do it alone – and don’t have to. We are that village for aspiring lawyers. They will be surrounded by people who genuinely want to see them succeed.”
Beyond this, what really makes this event special is what Attorney Mitchell says is the insistence that her team and speakers “exhibit those values that shape the culture of HBCUs. That includes providing a sense of family and belonging, showing a shared sense of responsibility for giving back, and the belief that we must all do our part to uplift our community given our history in this country. Those who volunteer their time to pour into our attendees understand the urgent need for our awareness, involvement, and leadership. We freely give to them and share the expectation that they do the same for those coming behind them.”
The event stresses to HBCU students and graduates that America’s law schools and the legal profession greatly need their voices, their understanding of and empathy for the community, and their knowledge of the law and the desire to use it to passionately advocate for equity and justice to make things better for present and future generations.
Moreover, the event showcases what our nation’s HBCU law schools have to offer as well so students can consider them as options for their professional legal education and training. The deans from all six law schools are invited to the HBCU Law School Deans Showcase to share the mission, vision, and legacies of their law schools with attendees.
Again this year, lawyers, law students, law professors, and law school administrators will converge in the District of Columbia to participate in the summit in various capacities with the singular focus and collective purpose of helping to motivate, empower, and support HBCU students and alumni in their quest to gain entry into law school and the legal profession.
A major feature of the summit is the inspirational plenary sessions featuring several prominent and dynamic speakers from around the country. This year’s lineup of keynote speakers includes Willie E. Gary, Esq., Partner, The Law Firm of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson, Gary & Gillespie, P.L.L.C.; Leron E. Rogers, Esq., Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP and Chairman, Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA); Jay Austin, Executive Director, RISE Alliance, Law School Admission Council (LSAC); Gregory J. Vincent, Esq., Ed.D., 21st President, Talladega College; Darrell D. Jackson, J.D., Ph.D., Winston Howard Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Wyoming College of Law; Veronica N. Dunlap, Esq., M.B.A., Deputy Executive Director, ACLU of Maryland; Frederick Lloyd Keith II, Esq., M.B.A., Legal Counsel, Commercial Litigation, Apple; Kisha A. Brown, Esq., Founder & CEO, Justis Connection; Dominique D. Calhoun, Esq., President, National Bar Association; Joy B. Tolliver, Esq., Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and General Counsel, Monroe College; and Tiffany Hill, Esq., Owner, TH Legal Consulting.
Additional events at this year’s summit are a Law School Admissions and Preparation Advisement Help Clinic, a Personal Statement/Diversity Statement/Addendum/Resume Review Drop Off Program, the Law School Recruitment and Resources Expo (featuring 100+ exhibitors), the HBCU Pre-Law Honors Awards, a private preview screening of The Burial starring Jamie Foxx, the National HBCU Pre-Law Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Awards Presentations, the Aspiring Lawyers Pinning Ceremony, the 10th Anniversary Cupcakes and Champagne Toast Celebration, and late screenings of documentaries Becoming Black Lawyers and Bar Daddy. Further, there will be speed networking, snack breaks, and receptions.
There will also be an optional bonus day on Thursday, September 21, 2023, for registrants interested in either touring the DC-area law schools or visiting the U.S. Capitol Building and U.S. Supreme Court along with fellow summit attendees. There will be evening networking activities afterward for those interested in getting a jumpstart on building connections before the official event programming begins.
For more information about this year’s milestone event, please visit the official website at HBCUPreLawSummit.org
This world-class event is offered entirely free of charge. Everyone is welcome to attend.
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