The ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship grants 20 incoming diverse law students with $15,000 of financial assistance over the course of their three years in law school. During his term as ABA President, William G. Paul initiated the scholarship to encourage racially and ethnically diverse students to apply to and attend law school. Since its inception, 200 students from across the country have received the ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship. These exceptional recipients have overcome adversity, proven themselves through academic success and public service, and demonstrated the tenacity to excel within the profession.
The purpose of the ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund is to encourage racial and ethnic minority students to apply to and attend law school and to provide financial assistance to ensure that these students have the opportunity to attend law school for three years. The ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund will award $5,000 of financial assistance annually to each scholarship recipient attending an ABA-accredited law school. An award made to an entering first-year student may be renewable for two additional years, resulting in financial assistance totaling $15,000 during his or her time in law school. Although each recipient will need to re-apply for the scholarship in his or her second and third year, the expectation is that the scholarship will be renewed each year if satisfactory performance in law school has been achieved, the student is otherwise eligible, and funding is available.
Specific Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible to receive an ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship, an applicant must meet all of the following requirements:
- The applicant must be an entering, first-year law student for the upcoming academic year. Only students beginning law school in the upcoming academic year will be eligible for an ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship. Law students who have completed one or more semesters or years of law school are not eligible. Applicants who are part-time law students also must be starting law school in the next academic year to be eligible.
- At the time of submission of the application, the applicant must have achieved a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 (on a 4.0 grading scale) at his or her undergraduate institution. If the applicant has not completed his or her undergraduate degree at the time the application is submitted, he or she must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5 (on a 4.0 grading scale) as of the most recent completed semester.
- The applicant must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States of America. Students, who are citizens and residents of a foreign country, even if they plan to attend law school in the United States, are not eligible to apply.
Before receiving scholarship funds, recipients will be required to demonstrate admission to and plans to enroll at an ABA-accredited law school. Because the deadline for submitting applications is in March 1, the applicant will have applied to law schools, but may not yet have been admitted to law school. If the applicant is selected to receive an ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship, he or she will be required to demonstrate admission to and plans to enroll at an ABA-accredited law school before receiving scholarship funds. An applicant or student who does not enroll or who leaves law school after being admitted will be required to return all or a proportional amount of scholarship funds.