September 2010 Bar Bulletin
SU Academic Resource Center Alumni Pay It Forward
By Paula Lustbader
Coming from a white, upper-middle-class, American family with two college-educated parents, I was raised with awareness that these privileged circumstances were shared by less than 2 percent of the world’s population.
From a young age, it was clear to me that I was obliged to use my opportunities to empower and serve others. Nearly 25 years ago, Professor Dave Boerner and I designed the Academic Resource Center Program at Seattle University School of Law, the only one of its kind in the Northwest and one of the few remaining true access programs in the country. I can’t imagine any other work that would be more fulfilling than directing this program. I wake up every day full of gratitude that my work enables me to provide access to justice for the underserved by increasing the number of underrepresented students in the law school and in the profession.
ARC looks beyond traditional admission criteria of the LSAT scores and GPAs of applicants from underrepresented populations to provide opportunity to promising students. ARC not only provides a vehicle for access to law school, but equally important it provides tangible academic and non-academic support specifically for the ARC students and generally for the entire student body.
Over the years, Boerner and I have seen more than 600 ARC students become lawyers. Over half were told they were not college or law school material. Over half overcame unimaginable challenges and obstacles to become lawyers.
Given access to legal education, ARC alums enrich and transform both the law school and the profession. Although they comprise only 10 percent of the student population, ARC students are disproportionately overrepresented as faculty scholars, Student Bar Association presidents and graduation speakers. They go on to be leaders in the legal profession, bar associations and their communities. They continue to serve the law school long after they graduate. Alumni continually come back to the law school to mentor and help entering “ARCies,” participate in alumni events and serve on alumni boards.
ARC alumni are thriving in all forms of practice in King County and beyond. They are state and federal court clerks; partners and associates in large, medium and small firms; prosecutors and defense attorneys; U.S. and state assistant attorneys general; public interest lawyers; attorneys for nonprofit organizations; educators; corporate counsel in large corporations such as Boeing and Microsoft; and judges.
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