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REAL Scholars Program


REAL Scholars Program Logo


Realizing Excellence and Access in the Law

The Mission

Fordham Law School’s Realizing Excellence and Access in the Law (REAL) Scholars program is committed to transforming the legal profession by expanding opportunities for first year law students from historically underrepresented backgrounds including but not limited to underrepresented racial, ethnic, geographic, socioeconomic, and first generation college backgrounds.

The Purpose

The purpose of the REAL Scholars program is to enhance the academic, professional, wellness and social opportunities for incoming first year students, especially students from marginalized identities, to learn in a supportive and collegial environment of excellence. 

The program is designed to orient participants to the study of law, and to help new 1Ls feel prepared, confident, and welcome in the Fordham Law community.  You will begin to understand what the law school experience will be like by being exposed to the important intellectual, academic and social skills you will need to succeed and by being exposed to the resources and people who will be a support network throughout law school including other first-year students, some of our faculty and upper-level students. 

The pre-orientation REAL Scholars program consists of classes that will introduce students to the foundation of law and as well as focus on the basics of legal reasoning and analysis and fundamental legal concepts.  Participants will also learn useful information from peer-mentors during the program.  Of course there will be many opportunities for organized and informal community-building.

REAL Program - Group Photo


Incoming first year students admitted to Fordham University School of Law are eligible to apply to the REAL Scholars program.  All eligible candidates are invited to apply to the REAL Scholars program by the deadline.  Upon review, select applicants will be accepted into the REAL Scholars program.  Accepted students must timely confirm their participation and agree to commit to program requirements.

Prospective candidates can access the REAL 2022 application form HERE beginning on April 15, 2022.

REAL Scholars Program Timeline

April 15 Application Opens
July 15 Final Application Due Date
Starting July 1 Selected Applicants Notified (rolling admissions)
July 11 - July 29 Program On-Boarding Process
August 1 First Day of Pre-Orientation Program
August 5 Last Day of Pre-Orientation Program
Fall 2022 - Spring 2023 REAL Programming for the Academic Year

Faculty Instructors

Intro to the US Legal System - Dean Toni Jaeger-Fine
Legal Writing Mechanics, Legal Reasoning & Analysis - Director Aysha Ames
Intro to Civil Justice & Public Interest - Professor Atinuke Adediran
Mock Law School Class - Professor Bennett Capers

The Experience

Michelle Chan

When Fordham Law gave me the opportunity to participate in a program that taught me the basics of "how to law school" with other diverse students, it not only gave me the practical skills I'd need to develop to succeed, but also provided me with a new family of peers who shared in the newness of our experience together. Six years after graduating, this is still the group I go to for career advice and a fun Friday happy hour. 

Michelle Chan , Fordham Law ’15


Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I participate in the REAL Scholars program?

The REAL Scholars program takes a holistic approach to a student's law school experience. The program is designed to orient students to the study of law and help incoming 1Ls feel prepared, confident and welcomed in the Fordham Law community. Through mentorship, in-depth instruction, and community building, the REAL Scholars program provides incoming JD students with the academic and social skills necessary to succeed in law school and the legal profession. It is important to note that the REAL Scholars program is a supplement not a substitute to attending Fordham Law School’s general orientation. Students will still have to attend Orientation.

If selected, do I have to participate in all of the pre-orientation programming?

The REAL Scholars program is a year long commitment starting during the pre-orientation week culminating at the end of your first-year. If selected, students are required to participate in all aspects of the program including co-curricular activities during the academic year.

Who is the REAL Scholars program intended to support?

The REAL Scholars program provides support to incoming JD students from historically underrepresented backgrounds in law school and the legal profession, including but not limited to underrepresented racial, ethnic, geographic, socioeconomic and first generation college backgrounds.

In what way does the pre-orientation program help me prepare for law school?

The pre-orientation program provides incoming JD students with an opportunity to participate in simulated classes, enhance leadership and professional skills and meet faculty, senior staff and upper class students. During the pre-orientation program, you will read and brief legal cases, build community with fellow students and obtain the necessary skills for professional and academic success in law school and the legal profession.

What are the dates of the pre-orientation program?

The program will begin with a week-long pre-orientation program from Monday, August 1, 2022 through Friday, August 5, 2022.

If I don’t do the pre-orientation week, can I still participate in the REAL Scholars program?

No. The pre-orientation week is a mandatory component of the program. REAL Scholars are expected to participate fully in all scheduled programs that week. The program hours are from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., with a few required evening events. In addition, throughout the year there will be co-curricular programming designed to complement the first-year coursework, assist with career development and provide community building opportunities.

How will the programming throughout the year help me?

The REAL Scholars program will continue to offer students support throughout the school year. There will be various academic and social offerings to build upon the skills that were introduced during the pre-orientation week. Additionally, you will have access to peer mentors and teaching fellows who will be available to assist you throughout the semester.

Will all students who apply be accepted to the program?

The REAL Scholars program will accept a maximum of 35 students per year. Students who are not selected to participate (or choose not to apply) can expect to engage in robust programming and resources to orient them to the law school experience such as  community building, wellness and more beginning at Orientation and continuing throughout the school year. You will also be able to participate fully in the Academic Success Program, which provides students with tutoring opportunities in the fall and spring semesters.

Is there mentoring offered during the program?

Yes. REAL Scholars are assigned a REAL Peer Mentor and a REAL Teaching Fellow. Your REAL Peer Mentor will assist with your transition to law school, provide you with resources and answer any questions you have as you acclimate to the law school environment. The REAL Teaching Fellows the necessary tools for academic success such as study skills, class preparation, and exam writing. REAL Scholars will also have various touchpoints with staff, faculty and alumni.

How do I apply for the program?

Please fill out this application form, which opens on April 15 and closes on July 15. Please contact Christine Kowlessar our Pipeline Program Coordinator at with any questions or concerns regarding the application process. Selected students will be notified starting in June 2022.

What does it cost to participate in the program?

The program is free for all participants, including selected meals and activities throughout the pre-orientation week. Additionally, we will provide each participant a small stipend to cover meals and other incidentals not provided during the week.  Room and board are not covered.  Candidates must plan for their own living arrangements and pay their own travel expenses to and from Fordham University School of Law.

Where do students live during the pre-orientation program?

 We expect you to move into your planned first year living arrangements on or before August 1. Accepted students who are enrolled in on campus housing during the academic year, we may arrange for early move in.

Will COVID-19 affect the administration of the REAL Scholars program?

We continue to monitor the CDC guidelines around COVID-19. At this time, we do not anticipate that there will be any cause for the program not to take place. At most, we would take steps to offer some or all of the week in an online or hybrid format.

Are students required to be vaccinated to attend the program?

Yes. All students participating in the REAL Scholars program will be required to be fully vaccinated prior to the start of the program. If you are admitted into the program and are unable to be fully vaccinated by the start of the program, please contact us at and we can make arrangements for you to be vaccinated on campus. 

Whom do I contact if I have questions?

If you have questions regarding the REAL Scholars program, please contact us at

REAL Scholars Program

Fordham University School of Law
Office of Student Affairs
150 West 62nd Street
Fourth Floor, Suite 4-101
New York, NY 10023

Tel: 212-636-7155

Fax: 212-636-7167