At the University of Wisconsin Law School, we don't just talk about diversity — we do all we can to create a more diverse and inclusive community dedicated to the pursuit of equal justice under law. We believe law schools have a responsibility to create a learning environment where every student feels safe, valued, respected and heard; and we recognize our unique role in working to end systemic inequalities.

These ideals have long been reflected in our actions. We recruit students from all over the country and from all backgrounds. We look for variety among our admitted students because we believe it makes for a robust and exciting learning environment. We look for students with different life experiences, socio-economic backgrounds, professional experiences and professional goals. We want all kinds of students who can represent a variety of viewpoints. And we strive to make sure that everyone who’s a part of the Law School feels that they belong here.

We have a top-notch faculty, an award-winning facility, and an impressive curriculum, and like other first-tier law schools we offer superb academic and career opportunities. But we are also different from many other law schools because we have a strong history of recruiting, supporting and graduating students of color. We have graduated over 1,500 lawyers of color, and we're committed to our tradition of diversity.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of all we do. Let us share some of the ways in which we bring these core values to life.  

For us, advancing equal opportunity and access is not new

Diversity and equal access to legal education have a long tradition at the University of Wisconsin Law School. The first African-American student was admitted in 1875; the first woman graduated in 1885. The Law School's Legal Education Opportunities (LEO) Program have long been national models for recruiting students from historically under-represented communities and supporting their success throughout their three years in law school.

Since 1973, the Law School through its Hastie Fellowship Program has been a leader in guiding and increasing opportunities for lawyers of color to become law professors. Graduates of the program have gone on to prominence as legal educators at law schools around the country, including our own.

We are proud of this tradition, but we're not resting on our laurels. We're looking to the future by welcoming highly qualified candidates like you into our community, ensuring that you thrive in law school, and preparing you for a rewarding legal career.

Our commitment to students of color can be seen in our numbers

UW Law School has made significant contributions toward diversifying the legal profession nationally. We have graduated more than 1,500 students of color, a proud group of prominent alumni who are increasingly active in their service to the Law School and its students. Access is something we take very seriously which includes first generation students and students who come from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds.

Students of color currently make up more than 20 percent of our student body. As a national law school, we recruit students from across the country and our current students represent more than 30 states. The faculty also reflects diversity in race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, beliefs, ideas, and national origin. We have a national reputation for valuing diversity, equity and inclusion, and we are committed to maintaining it.

our financial commitment reflects our priorities

Compared to our peer law schools, the outstanding education we offer at UW Law School is affordable.  Our tuition is lower than our peer schools, and the cost of living in Madison is reasonable as well.

But beyond these financial advantages, we also have made a financial commitment to positioning diverse students to go on to successful legal careers without the burden of excessive debt. We recruit top students and minimize the financial burdens of a legal education through scholarships, and our average debt is well below the national law school average and consistently the lowest among Big Ten schools. We assist students who show financial need, and we offer scholarships to attract students who bring academic and other strengths to the Law School. The LEO Enrichment Fund, an annual campaign among our alumni of color, is just one sources of financial support for our diverse students. 

a community of support

Our students of color have a supportive community at the Law School. Specific diversity-focused student organizations actively provide personal, academic and career support for their members. In addition, the Legal Education Opportunity (LEO) Program, a student-organized umbrella organization that collectively represents, supports, and helps all students of color, offers a warm and welcoming environment for students.

The UW Law School faculty and administration also are actively involved with our students of color, and they are dedicated to their success. Our diverse faculty members reflect shared experiences with law students of color, and along with their colleagues, are there with support and encouragement.

LEO Program

The Legal Education Opportunities (LEO) Program is designed to bring the UW Law School's students of color and their supporters together as a single community. LEO provides a strong academic and social support network, helps students of color get the legal skills they need, promotes diversity, and recruits students from groups that have been historically disadvantaged. LEO serves as a communication mechanism, influences policy decisions important to students of color, and sponsors an orientation for all first-year students. Each spring, LEO organizes an impressive banquet bringing together LEO alumni and celebrating the successes of our students of color.

In addition to LEO, there are five specific constituent law student associations representing Black, Asian American, Latinx, Middle Eastern and Indigenous law students. They are active, vital organizations. Each group provides academic, social and cultural support for its own members and assists in recruiting and retaining students. Each also encourages student involvement and leadership and provides networking and career opportunities.

Beyond the support systems available through the LEO Program, there are additional unique programs that serve our students of color and the broader Law School community These programs and events heighten awareness around diversity, provide educational and practical training and celebrate the deep commitment the school and these groups have towards diversifying the practice of law.

The Diversity Clerkship Program, a Wisconsin State Bar sponsored program, offers an opportunity for first-year students from historically underrepresented groups to have summer employment in high-quality legal settings. The clerkship program places students in private firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. The experience, feedback and real-world setting give students a way to explore their career choices and expand their options.

law-in-action approach

Top students are drawn to the UW Law School because of its tradition of excellence, but it is the law-in-action philosophy and interdisciplinary opportunities that make Wisconsin one of the most intellectually exciting law schools in the country. The UW Law School's law-in-action tradition differentiates it from other law schools. The UW Law School pioneered the belief that law must be studied in action as it relates to society and not in isolation.

The Law School focuses on helping its students understand how law both affects and is affected by every other institutional force in society. The Law School does this in its classrooms, in its many clinical programs, and in its numerous collaborations among departments and colleges at one of the world's leading universities.

Our vision for the future

We are devoted to diversity, inclusion and equity in everything we do. We will continue to ensure they remain key components of our future as we assess our institutional needs and resources and update our strategic plan. We know there is more work to be done, and we stand ready for that mission.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential components of excellence in legal education. They create a broadening, more stimulating, and thought-provoking environment for everyone; enhance our students' ability to see problems from different perspectives; teach students how to represent clients who are different from them; and prepare students to succeed in the increasingly diverse world in which they will practice.

At UW Law, we are committed to continuing and improving on our tradition of recruiting talented students of color and providing academic support to ensure success during and after law school. We’ll continue to prioritize recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty and staff, while seeking to mobilize our community to confront systemic inequality and advance racial justice.  

 For more information about our diversity programs, contact us at admissions@law.wisc.edu

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