It took seven years for Whitley Parker to join the Juris Doctor/Masters in Public Administration (JD/MPA) programme at Southern University Law Centre (SULC). She already held an undergraduate degree from the University of Louisiana Monroe and she was determined to get into SULC.
“During the pandemic I decided to give the LSAT another chance and I began to participate in LSAT prep with Professor Michael Garrard,” she says. “I finally defeated the LSAT instead of the LSAT defeating me, so I finally made it to law school!”
Such resolve is unsurprising. Students like Parker know SULC is a place of access, opportunity and diversity — the ideal trifecta to get prepared for entry into the legal profession.
When asked to describe her SULC experience, Parker answered, “support, support, support.” It starts from their first year. Mentors are matched with incoming law students before they introduce them to the types of services, resources, and facilities available for students at the Law Centre. They provide support, guidance, and advice on how to navigate the unique challenges presented to incoming law students as well.
As a first-generation law student, Parker is one of the many law students who benefitted from the Legal Pals programme. “My Legal Pal answered all of my questions before school, after school, and even now! I truly have the best Legal Pal,” she shares.
When opportunity came to get involved with the student community at SULC, she took it. “I served as the SBA Evening Division Representative, and for the upcoming year, I am the SBA Evening Division President,” she enthuses. “I am also a member of Women in Law. I serve as the Evening Division Representative for WIL. I recently became a member of the Honours Board of Advocates, a mock trial competition board.”
Soon, she is set to become an SULC graduate – someone who blazes trails as they secure equal rights for others. “Ideally, after I graduate, I aspire to become a Civil Rights and Criminal Defence Attorney,” she says. “Lately, I have been thinking about returning to my home town and opening my own solo practice law firm.”
The “Louisiana” edge
How else does SULC stand out from other law schools in the US? Diversity. SULC’s student population is more diverse in racial, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds than most law schools throughout the US. It has held the title of “Most Diverse Faculty” for multiple years. African-Americans make up over half the student population and 72% of the school’s faculty.
In 2019, SULC partnered with NetApp, a data services provider, to create the Community of Legal Interns. According to Connie Brenton, Senior Director of Legal Operations at NetApp, the partnership will increase access, opportunity and representation from “historically underrepresented groups in the legal industry.” Last year, SULC collaborated with Diverse Representation to increase diversity in C-suite, executive, legal, and management opportunities in the sports and entertainment industries.
Through the Summer Entertainment Immersion Programme, a select group of rising second and third-year SULC law students live in Los Angeles for a week of immersive learning. As they meet one-on-one with leading attorneys, entertainment executives, and thought leaders in the entertainment industry from companies such as CAA, Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery and more, they gain exposure to various career paths in the entertainment industry including film, television, music and digital opportunities.
“This premiere programme will allow students to engage and network with leading media and entertainment companies who will teach them beneficial information about the entertainment law field,” says Marla Dickerson, associate vice chancellor of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives, Southern University Law Center. “We are committed to providing excellent education, training and resources to our students to help them thrive in today’s competitive world.”
An expansive curriculum and experiential learning opportunities
SULC’s curriculum is as expansive as it is experiential. Its Juris Doctor programme exposes students to areas of civil law specific to Louisiana and common law. Their dual-degree programmes (Juris Doctor/Masters in Public Administration (JD/MPA) and Juris Doctor/Masters in Business Administration) train students to become leaders in public policy and business with a strong foundation in law.
These programmes come to life through experiential learning opportunities. Arnedia Wallace, a JD/MPA graduate, shared how SULC opened the door for her to take part in the Institute for Future Law Practice programme, which led to an eye-opening experience of what it takes to become a “T-Shaped” lawyer.
“I participated in a three-week boot camp where I learned to hone my traditional skills while gaining tech-related, process and business management skills. I was sent to clerk for one of the top tech companies in Silicon Valley, and my life was forever changed,” she explains.
Tomorrow’s legal experts seeking a formalised focus in a particular area can consider SULC’s certificate programmes. Upon completion, students not only gain significant learning to the practice area, but can also demonstrate to potential employers their commitment to the practice area.
The Certificate in Public Law is suitable for students interested in a career in public policy. Taking advantage of SULC’s location in Louisiana’s capital city, the programme offers specialised courses, externships, and opportunities for interdisciplinary studies. Alternatively, the The Certificate in Tax Law lays a solid foundation for students to master the basic principles of taxation and transition into rigorous tax graduate programmes.
So, what are you waiting for? Click here to join a vibrant and diverse law school that will guide you to legal excellence.
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