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Published on January 28, 2016 | by LawNews

Hofstra Law Highlighted in U.S. News & World Report Story on Law Schools Supporting First-Generation Students

Vernadette Horne, director of career and professional development and diversity initiatives, is one a several experts cited in “Law Schools Carve a Niche for First-Generation Students,” a Jan. 26, 2016, article in the Education Rankings & Advice section of U.S. News & World Report.


Being the first one in the family to go to college, and then law school, is a remarkable accomplishment. But students who achieve these goals often face more hurdles when it’s time to fit in with their classmates.

Some will lack the confidence to contribute to class discussions because they aren’t as knowledgeable of certain topics as their peers, experts say.

“You don’t want everybody to know that you don’t know,” says Vernadette Horne, director of career and professional development and diversity initiatives at the Hofstra University Deane School of Law.

Others will have questions about etiquette, networking and similar topics that their classmates from more affluent backgrounds may already be familiar with, experts say.

A number of law schools have recently started clubs or programs to help first-generation professionals succeed in school and in their careers. Members of Hofstra’s class of 2012 started the First Generation Law Students organization a few years ago and the Columbia University Law School introduced the First Generation Professionals group last school year.​

University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law is one of the newest schools to follow this trend. Instead of a student group, though, the school offers an administrator-guided program: the First Generation Professionals Program. …

First-generation professionals may be in the minority at many law schools, experts say. It’s important that prospective students seek an environment that embraces this background.

[USC Gould student Thai Viet] Phan says law school applicants should “look for the numbers.” Prospective students should find out the ethnic breakdown of students at the schools they’re considering to ensure that schools claiming to be diverse really are, she says.

At Deane, Horne says, her office supports first generation students in various ways, such as providing them with more personalized career counseling and teaching students the importance of networking with their peers.

Read the full article.

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