CHICAGO (May 20, 2020) — The Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP) is launching a fund and fellowship program to support women of color law students who lost their 2020 law firm or corporate internship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As an organization, our whole mission has been focused on advancing the careers of underrepresented women of color in the legal profession,” said DAPP co-founder Tiffany Harper. “Our goal is to address the lack of diversity in Big Law by infusing the pipeline with highly qualified, diverse law students who have undergone intensive training and professional development.”
The DAPP Displaced Student Stipend Fund will provide financial support and intensive professional development for displaced law students to do volunteer legal work that will provide meaningful training and skill development during the summer of 2020. In addition to the stipend, awardees will receive a DAPP Fellowship that matches students with lawyer mentors, provides professional development sessions and coaching and assists students in preparing their resumes and writing samples for future on-campus recruiting interviews. Awardees will also complete research and writing assignments for nonprofit organizations in need of legal support.
“We have always targeted our programming on intensive professional development, academic coaching, attorney and law student mentoring, and, especially, summer positions at law firms and in corporate legal departments following the first year of law school,” explains co-founder Chasity Boyce. “We know this is the critical moment in a law student’s career to gain access to the most prestigious positions in the profession. Students who work in law firms following their first year of law school are more likely to obtain summer associate positions and secure offers of employment following law school.”
Harper and Boyce, both African American women who graduated from law school at the height of the previous recession, have a deep personal commitment to ensuring that the economic impact of the pandemic does not, once again, disproportionally impact those populations who already have the most barriers to accessing prestigious positions in the legal field.
“As law firms and businesses are forced to cut their summer internship programs, we hope they’ll consider contributing to this fund to support our work of infusing the pipeline to the legal profession with talented, highly qualified women of color in order to address the dismal statistics surrounding the number of women of color who are hired, retained and promoted at large law firms across the nation,” said Harper.
“This is not a time to give up on diversity and inclusion efforts; it’s a time to refocus our efforts on preparing the next generation of lawyers for the challenges they’ll face in a diverse, global marketplace,” added Boyce.
DAPP established the Displaced Student Stipend Fund with $20,000 of seed money from its own funds earmarked to support the pipeline of women of color lawyers. DAPP is calling on individuals, law firms, corporations, bar associations, and other nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to join in contributing to the Fund by earmarking donations to match and exceed DAPP’s contribution to support women of color law students. DAPP aims to raise at least $100,000 for the Fund. To learn more about becoming a sponsor, visit www.dapprogram.org.
The Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program is a non-profit organization that addresses the continued and systematic decline of women of color lawyers in large law firms and across other positions in the legal profession. Through its Scholars program and national job placement program, DAPP Direct, DAPP works to expand opportunities for women of color law students to succeed in law school and secure paid summer positions at law firms and corporations following their first year of law school. The DAPP Scholars Program runs in Chicago, Illinois, and provides scholars with placement assistance, academic support, coaching, counseling, book stipends, tutoring, seminars and workshops, tailored professional development, mentorship and more.