As a first-generation law student, Christine Love said she had no idea what law school would be like apart from what she had seen on TV. Now a second-year student at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Love credits the school’s JumpStart program for helping her be successful. “It helped me learn the ropes without the stress of juggling multiple classes and worrying about multiple grades,” she said.
Now in its second year, the JumpStart program provides incoming first-year law students with the opportunity to begin their law school career a few months early. Designed by Associate Dean Bryan Adamson and Professor Liam Dunn, the eight-week summer program helps incoming first-year students build confidence and community while easing the typical fall semester course load.
Thirty students are enrolled in this summer’s program, including 20 Backus Scholars. Backus Scholars are admitted first-year students who, like Love, have demonstrated distinction in their academic, work and life experiences. This year marks the second cohort.
All JumpStart students are enrolled in the law school’s three-credit Criminal Law course and can take advantage of add-on academic programs focusing on class preparation, exam-taking, professionalism and ethics, time and stress management techniques and establishing effective work-life balance. JumpStart students also meet with current students, faculty and local members of the legal profession.
“There are aspiring law students who do not come from places of privilege, having the economic or social advantages that often ensure law school acclimation and success. Students from minority communities, first gens, veterans, and those with other abilities are indispensable to the law school classroom and essential to the legal profession,” said Adamson.
"With JumpStart, our goal is not only to bring in more students from underrepresented groups and communities, but also to provide them with the tools required for success in law school and beyond,” added Dunn. “The law school and its student body also benefit tremendously because the JumpStart students bring with them unique perspectives that enrich the classroom experience. Further, many of the JumpStart students have a strong desire to pursue legal careers in public interest, which benefits the entire legal profession."
Students note that one of the greatest benefits of the summer program is that it helps build community early on. This year, “Razing the Bar,” the Law School’s faculty-student rock band will be playing at a welcome event for the JumpStart students at Cosmic Dave’s Rock Club on June 24.
“JumpStart is where I met my closest friends, built meaningful relationships with the administration, and gained confidence for the fall semester,” said Heavenly Aguilar, 2L Backus Scholar.
“My experience in JumpStart allowed me to develop my core community before the fall semester of my 1L year,” added second-year Victoria Bonds, a Backus Scholar. “I am fortunate that I continue to have unwavering support from these individuals to experience both successes and challenges.”
This year’s program runs from June 17 through August 15.