For black people, the pursuit of justice and equality is seemingly endless. The Jim Crow days are far from ancient history, and while things have come a long way from where they were, racial prejudices and injustice still run rampant in 2021. Our voices often feel lost within the justice system, and to combat that, more black men and women than ever are turning to careers in law, and are using historically black colleges and universities as a powerful launchpad.
Law gives black students the ability to have a direct impact upon the system that so frequently tips the scales against people of color. It gives us the chance to become the advocates that our community so desperately needs within the justice system. Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) offer the support and guidance of like minded peers and educators, and help prepare students to serve their community in a meaningful way. Those seeking the resources an HBCU has to offer for law degrees may wish to consider one of the following options for schooling.
#1: Howard University School of Law
Howard University is the oldest HBCU law school in the United States, and is arguably one of the best schools in the country, period. It consistently ranks within the top 50 schools in America for a number of programs, and the Howard University School of Law is no exception. In 2020, a staggering 93.1% of Howard law students passed the New York State Bar exam, whereas the overall passage rate for the state was 75.7%.
Howard University’s law program gives students real, hands-on experience in a number of legal clinics and public welfare institutes. The school’s location in Washington, D.C. gives students excellent pre- and post-graduation opportunities for internships, externships, apprenticeships, and employment. The political climate of the area is ideal for what many law students strive to be immersed in.
The quality of education that Howard law students receive is unmatched, with a post-graduation employment rate of 86%. Amongst Howard’s law graduates is former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who was a leader of the civil rights movement in the 1950s, and led the Supreme Court to rule segregated schools as unconstitutional in 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education).
#2: Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University
This Texas HBCU, named after the civil rights commander we discussed earlier, is a public institution with the #31 best law library in the nation (out of 198 total) and three legal clinics for students to gain real world experience in social justice issues (the Earl Carl Institute), legal education (the Center for Legal Pedagogy), and international and immigration law (Institute for International and Immigration Law). In addition to its clinics, TSU also publishes two legal journals: the Thurgood Marshall Law Review, and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law Gender, Race, and Justice Law Journal, which is run by students.
Admission is not as competitive as Howard, with TSU accepting about 56% of applicants. The Class of 2020 reported a 77% employment rate, meaning that within 9 months of graduation, 77% of the graduates were successfully employed.
#3: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Law
Florida A&M, a HBCU located in Orlando, FL, has a fully-accredited law school. What makes the school appeal to many is the flexibility of its law programs. Students are given the option to participate in the full-time daytime program, or the part-time evening program, whereas many law schools do not afford the same opportunity to those needing night school. This makes it an excellent choice for aspiring law students who are parents, work full-time jobs, or have other daytime commitments.
The least expensive of the three, FAMU College of Law costs roughly $15,000 per year for Florida residents, and $35,000 per year for out-of-state students. The school boasts an impressive library, which is open to the public, and prides itself on being a valuable resource for its students as well as the community they serve.
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