Maine Law’s PreLaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program marked a fourth, successful year in 2019. The goal of the PLUS program is to bring more diversity to the legal profession in Maine and around the country. Since 2016, Maine Law has welcomed undergraduate students of color, immigrants, students challenged by poverty, first-generation college students, and students from rural areas to explore if law school is a path for them. These students undertake a rigorous, three-week curriculum, taught by Maine Law professors and staff, that introduce them to core legal concepts, legal research and writing skills, and the legal profession. The students also have the opportunity to observe and learn from the Maine legal community through courthouse observations, law firm receptions, and visits to the Statehouse.
With support from the Maine Law community, including alumni, friends, law firms, and foundations, the Law School was able to continue this important program for another year. Our fourteen PLUS scholars for the 2019 program came from as far away as California and as near as Portland to explore their interest in law and their voice as a future leader. The students were overwhelmed by the support and mentoring they received from the Law School faculty, and the access and welcome they received from the Maine bench and bar. From this experience, many of the PLUS scholars found the confidence they were seeking to strive toward professional goals.
Among this summer’s highlights:
- A keynote address by Felix Hagenimana ’18 who shared his story of surviving the Rwandan genocide;
- Judge Peter Cary hosted scholars for a morning at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maine;
- Local attorneys conducted mock interviews;
- Judge Keith Powers ’73 and Judge Jed French ’94 hosted the scholars in criminal court. Scholars observed in custody initial appearances, during which Judge French, the prosecutor, and the lawyer of the day met with the scholars to explain the proceedings and answer their questions.
- Judges Rick Lawrence and John Beliveau hosted the scholars in Lewiston District Court to observe protection from abuse hearings. Judge Beliveau met with the scholars in chambers to answer their questions about the proceedings. Scholars were also able to observe a trial during this visit.
- Scholars participated in a field trip to Augusta where they met with Governor Janet Mills and Representative Andrew McLean ’20 and took a tour of the State House. The tour was led by Maine’s Secretary of State, Matthew Dunlap.
- Chief Justice Leigh Saufley ’80 hosted the scholars at the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, where they observed an appellate oral argument. At the conclusion of the oral argument, the two attorneys spent time answering the scholars’ questions.
- Scholars attended a networking reception hosted by Bernstein Shur.
We continue to be grateful to the Maine legal community for its enthusiastic support of this program. Having concluded the funded grant period, Maine Law PLUS relies on your contributions to sustain this vital pipeline effort, the purpose of which is to promote diversity and inclusion of Maine’s bench and bar.