Following three decades as a Deputy Attorney General for the California Attorney General’s Office and 13 years in leadership in the college access nonprofit space, Cindy Lopez founded LEAP to build access to law school education for groups that are underrepresented in the field. In her experience in the sector, Cindy observed that the demand and need for such programming far outpaced existing offerings. Further, there is an opportunity to provide key experiences, connections, and a meticulously designed curriculum that will help students to excel in their law school applications, in law school programs, and later on in their legal careers.
Following thorough planning, research into best practices, and meetings with stakeholders, LEAP began its first fellowship cohort in January 2020. Each fellowship cohort runs for nine months and involves a series of workshops coupled with mentoring from a law student and from a lawyer, visits to courtrooms and law offices, and moot court competitions. The program aims to prepare students for law school, not just through application readiness, but also through building soft skills that help fellows excel in law school and in their careers, by giving fellows a network of helpful connections, and by preparing them to be change agents in their communities.
LEAP’s work is sustained through dynamic partnerships between law schools, law firms, and funders. They provide financial support, administrative support, mentors, guest speakers, job shadowing opportunities, and internships.