Katherine Hazen '18 Staff Writer
Smith College has established a partnership with Indiana University Maurer School of Law to provide scholarship opportunities for two Smith graduates per year, starting with the law school’s entering class of 2015. IU Maurer School of Law has chosen to pursue partnerships with many schools, including Dartmouth College, Princeton University, Grinnell College and others. IU established a relationship with Vassar College last year and this year has chosen to expand that opportunity to Bryn Mawr College, Mills College, Mount Holyoke College and Wellesley College in an effort to encourage more women into law and bring more talented women to their campus composed of nearly 60 percent men.
On Feb. 4, the dean of Maurer Law School, Austen L. Parrish, said in a press release, “The role of women in the legal profession is more important than ever, and our school has made a major commitment to maintaining a diverse enrollment by recruiting some of the most talented young women in the nation, who go on to be leaders in their fields,”
The partnership offers at least two graduates from each school with scholarships guaranteed to account for a minimum of 50 percent of annual tuition, significantly reducing the cost of tuition over three years. Each partner school nominates at least two students or alumni for admission on the basis that the applicants meet the law school’s criteria, wherein factors such as “prior academic performance, letters of recommendation, past professional and other experience and the desire to study at the law school” will come into consideration. In addition to the financial benefits of the program, students receive the title “Smith Law Scholar” and extensive mentorship.
Professor Carrie Baker, who Stacie Hagenbaugh, director of the Lazarus Center of Career Development, selected to review the partnership, emphasized the importance of mentorship in law school. “You’d be [a] mentored part of an all-women’s cohort which is hugely important in the law school environment.”
“It looked like a great opportunity. It was no cost to us and a benefit for our students to participate,” Baker said. “Law school is less daunting [to students], and there is less debt.”
Baker provides advice for students considering law, and she noticed more students coming into her office recently. “The tide is turning: the recession is over; law firms are hiring again; law looks more appealing to some students.”
Smith’s law school admittance rate of 83 percent surpasses the national rate of 78 percent; for the 2013 to 2014 academic year, of the seven senior law school applicants, seven were accepted. The new partnership supplies students with the option of attending one of the top 20, and one of the oldest law schools, in the country.