Pipeline Diversity Program Honored for Exemplary Leadership in Diversifying Law Profession
Albuquerque, N.M., Program Receives 2012 ABA Alexander Award
When the Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indians and Alaska Natives started in 1967, its leaders could only locate 25 Native American attorneys in the country. “That was out of 560 tribes,” says Heidi Nesbitt, PLSI director and the American Indian Law Center’s assistant director.
Today, the estimates for Native American attorneys are from 2,500 to 3,000 attorneys and nearly 1,000 of them have gone through the summer institute aimed at preparing American Indian and Alaska Native students for the “rigors of law school” by simulating the first semester of law school.
Nesbitt received the 2012 Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award Feb. 3 during the ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans. She urged lawyers to continue to support programs like PLSI because they are vital to create a more diverse profession reflective of the nation.
The award was conferred by the ABA Council for Racial & Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline and presented by the chair, Michelle Gallardo, who described PLSI’s nominating packet as the largest and most intriguing to read. “This program is part of history,” Gallardo said.
The Pre-Law Summer Institute, dubbed “boot camp,” by its former participants immerses undergraduate students in an eight-week program that teaches them how to conduct law school research, analysis, and how to write memorandums and briefs in addition to other case materials. “We teach skills that are required to study law,” Nesbitt added.
As a result, graduates of the program have gone on to graduate from the law schools at Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, among other prestigious institutions. Alumni of the program include lawyers, judges, professors, deans and tribal chairs.