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Fifteen Native American undergraduate students from across the country are spending a month this summer at the University of New Mexico School of Law. They are learning many aspects about the legal profession as part of the Native American Pre-law Undergraduate Scholars Program (NA-PLUS), sponsored by LSAC DiscoverLaw.org.Plus Program.
The students, primarily college sophomores, are enrolled in three courses that focus on writing, critical thinking and analysis of federal Indian law and other current Native American legal issues. The students also are learning about the law school admissions process and receiving career advisement in planning an education path that would lead to law school. They also are visiting tribal, state and federal courts, along with Albuquerque law firms that focus on Indian law and they are being mentored by Native American lawyers and law students.
This is the first year the program has been offered at the UNM law school, which it is operating in conjunction with the American Indian Law Center. The law school and the American Indian Law Center have worked together for 40 years to offer a summer boot camp, the Pre-law Summer Institute (PLSI), for Native Americans entering law school in the fall each year. The new NA-PLUS program reaches a younger cohort of students, who are working alongside the PLSI students.
“This program adds a new dimension to a long-running and very successful existing program,” said Dean Kevin Washburn. “It helps to increase the pipeline for American Indians to law school.”