MMLA is excited to announce the Bowen Scholarship. Alisha Bowen and Luz Lopez Rosas, Legal Assistants in Legal Aid’s Minneapolis housing unit and members of the BIPOC Advisory Committee, created the scholarship as a career development initiative for Legal Aid non-attorney staff.
“Anyone who has been to law school understands how expensive it is,” Bowen says. “When I saw the lack of diversity in our attorney staff, I asked myself, how can we fix this? The idea of the scholarship is to relieve some of the barriers faced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and increase the chances of success.”
According to the National Association for Law Placement’s 2019 Report on Diversity, 17% of U.S. attorneys at law firms are people of color. In the Twin Cities, only 7.2% of attorneys are people of color. That racial disparity also exists for judges, referees, and people working in the court systems, as well as in legislative positions. Within Legal Aid, 83% of attorneys are white.
“Being part of the housing unit has solidified the importance of having attorneys who share the lived experiences of the clients we serve,” says Lopez Rosas. “There’s a different cultural exchange that happens when the advocate has a deeper understanding or shared identity with the clients.”
Bowen Scholarship Basics:
- $25,000 scholarships, paid directly to the institution to cover costs for tuition, fees, textbooks and other school related expenses.
- All current Legal Aid non-attorney staff who are from traditionally underrepresented or disadvantaged communities and/or a member of a recognized Indigenous/Native American tribe are eligible.
- Legal Aid has demonstrated its commitment to the scholarship by setting aside $100,000 to get it started. In addition, eight staff members so far are contributing to the scholarship via payroll deduction.
- The initial fundraising goal to continue the scholarship is $50,000 in gifts/pledges by February 28, 2022.
- To contribute, go to LegalAid (mobilecause.com) and in the designation drop-down menu, select “Bowen Scholarship.”
- For more details, contact Bowen Scholarship founders Alisha Bowen at email@example.com or Luz Lopez Rosas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Aid staff have the option to contribute directly to the Bowen Scholarship Fund through payroll deduction. The organization is hoping the local legal community will also see the benefit of a more diverse bar and join the effort. Bowen and Lopez Rosas are happy to present to bar associations, law firms, and other organizations. They hope Legal Aid’s community partners will take the opportunity to invest in a more equitable and diverse legal system for all.