This past summer, 43 students from across the country came to Drake’s campus to participate in the American Bar Association’s annual Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) Summer Institute. It was Drake’s first time hosting and it had been nearly twenty years since the Institute was hosted in the state of Iowa.
In late January, Drake Law School was recognized for working to diversify the legal profession, through hosting the Institute, with a Diversity Award from CLEO.
CLEO was founded in 1968 as a nonprofit project of the American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education. Its primary goal is to expand opportunities for minority and low-income students to attend law school.
Students arrived in Des Moines, not knowing what to expect, as none of them had ever been to Iowa’s capital or had ever taken a law school course. What they got was a rigorous six-week training on how to be a successful law student.
Students took four first-year law school courses and had the opportunity to explore all of Iowa’s court systems. They also had the opportunity to meet local practitioners, six judges and watch an Iowa Cubs game.
As a part of their well-rounded education and preparation experience, CLEO students were able to watch a second-degree robbery trial of two high school students who were facing up to 10 years in prison. The trial was integrated into their criminal law class curriculum to help solidify the concepts they were learning from their textbook, with real life examples.
“The trial practicum was my favorite experience of the summer,” said Sasha Mayo a CLEO Institute student. “It really made me realize the importance of lawyers and the legal system.” Mayo has decided to attend Drake Law School, and because of her experience with the trial practicum is considering a career as a prosecutor.
Along with helping the 43 participating students prepare for law school, hosting the Summer Institute was an opportunity for Drake Law School to fulfill its commitment to diversity.
According to Allan Vestal, Dean of Drake Law School, hosting the Institute “is a reflection of our innovative curriculum and our long-standing commitment to a diverse and inclusive community.”