REAL Scholars Program

The Mission

Fordham’s Law School’s Realizing Excellence and Access in the Law (REAL) Scholars Program is committed to transforming law school and the legal profession by preparing and expanding opportunities for first year law students who have encountered challenges or obstacles on their path to entering law school.

The Purpose

The purpose of REAL is to enhance the academic, professional, wellness, and social opportunities for incoming first year students, particularly those who encountered obstacles or challenges on their path towards a legal career, which may include members of a community that has been historically underrepresented or under-recognized in the legal profession.

REAL programming is designed to orient participants to the study of law, and help incoming 1Ls feel prepared, confident, and welcomed in the Fordham Law community. Participants will be exposed to important academic, professional, and social skills necessary to succeed in order to learn about the law school experience, as well as exposure to resources and a support network throughout law school including alumni, faculty, law students, and working professionals.

The REAL Scholars experience begins with a pre-orientation week comprising workshops and seminars introducing Scholars to the foundations and principles of law, including legal reasoning and analysis, as well as the events focusing on the law school experience, practical lawyering, and community building. Participants will also meet their mentors, faculty, administrators, current and incoming law students, as well as practicing attorneys and other professionals who will provide a support network throughout their law school career.

Eligibility

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 due date.  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.

Access the application here.

Program Timeline

May 8, 2024 Application Opens
June 20, 2024 Priority Deadline
July 15, 2024  Final Deadline to Apply
Mid June 2024  Selected Applicants Notified of Updates / Interviews (rolling
admissions)
July 1, 2024 to August 2, 2024 Enrolled Participants Onboarding
August 5 - August 9 Pre-Orientation Week
Fall 2024 - Spring 2025 Academic Year REAL Programming

Faculty Instructors

Introduction to the U.S. Legal System - Senior Counselor Toni Jaeger-Fine
Legal Writing Mechanics, Legal Reasoning and Analysis - Director Aysha Ames
Introduction to Civil Justice and Public Interest - Professor Atinuke Adediran
Mock Law School Class - Professor Bennett Capers

Note this instruction is tentative and subject to change.

Student Testimonials

REAL Scholar Shivani Parikh 240x240
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Shivani Parikh, Fordham Law ’24

Being a part of the REAL summer program was instrumental in feeling like I had a community from the day I stepped into the building on the first day of classes. For first-generation law students of color, it can be isolating and confusing when you are simultaneously navigating a demanding curriculum, a new institution, and your career goals in New York City. Being a public interest student of color also made it challenging for me to always feel a sense of belonging in my affinity group - a double minority. The REAL program throughout the school year (whether the Office of Student Affairs administrators, cohort peers, or allied faculty supporters) always cheered me on, made me feel that I am not alone on my journey, and reminded me that others see & value me as a friend and colleague. It has been especially rewarding as a 2L to give back and return to the program as a mentor to six REAL students in the Class of 2025!

photo of Rian Morrissey, Fordham Law ’24 240x240
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Rian Morrissey, Fordham Law ’24

The REAL summer program was my first introduction to the law school experience at Fordham. I knew that being a person of color would be a different law school experience than from most of my colleagues. The REAL program provided a network of diverse peers and mentors that significantly contributed to my success and continues to do so throughout my law school experience. This was particularly impactful when I discovered that I was the only African American man in my first year of classes. REAL has become my support system within the school regarding career advancement, academics, and mentorship. As a 2L, I still have a strong connection with both cohorts and provide any resources and look forward to seeing how the program will continue to evolve.

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REAL Scholars outdoors photo with balloons 480Wx360H

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 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 J.D. students with the academic and social skills necessary to succeed in law school and the legal profession. It is important to note the REAL Scholars program is a supplement, and not a substitute, to attending Fordham Law School’s general 1L Fall Orientation. Students are still required to attend 1L Fall Orientation.

  • The REAL Scholars program is a year-long commitment beginning with the week-long REAL pre-orientation (prior to 1L Fall Orientation for the entire Fordham Law incoming class) and culminates at the end of the 1L year. If selected, students are required to participate in all aspects of the REAL pre-orientation week agenda as well as programming during the academic year, including study group sessions, peer mentor meetings, events, workshops, etc.

  • REAL provides support to incoming first year J.D. students who have encountered barriers on their path towards law school which may include members of a community that has been historically underrepresented or under-recognized in the legal profession.

  • The REAL pre-orientation week provides incoming J.D. 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 week of pre-orientation, students will read and brief legal cases, building community with fellow students, and obtain the necessary skills for professional and academic success in law school and the legal profession.

  • The REAL Pre-Orientation begins August 5, 2024 and ends on August 9, 2024 comprising five days of programming from morning to late afternoon or early evening.

  • No. The REAL Pre-Orientation is a mandatory component of the REAL Scholars Program and Scholars must attend and fully participate in all scheduled sessions during the week of Pre-Orientation which begins each day around 9:00 AM and ending around 5:00 PM with a few events in the evening which Scholars will also be required to attend.

  • Yes. Scholars are required to attend and participate in any program, event, workshop, study session, or the like which are designated as “Mandatory Attendance”, which includes, but not limited to, REAL TA study sessions, Office of Student Affairs study sessions, REAL Peer Mentor meetings as well as meetings with other mentors and advisors, law firm receptions, and workshops or seminars.

  • 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 pre-orientation week. Additionally, students will have access to peer mentors and teaching fellows who will be available to assist them throughout the academic year.

  • No. The number of students accepted to the REAL Scholars program will depend on the capacity of the program administrators which will vary from year to 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 wellness, community building, and more beginning at Fall Orientation and continuing throughout the school year. Students will also be able to fully participate in the Academic Success Program, which provides students with tutoring opportunities in the Fall and Spring semesters.

  • Yes. REAL Scholars are assigned a REAL Peer Mentor and a REAL Teaching Fellow. The REAL Peer Mentor will assist the student with their 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 teach REAL Scholars 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.

  • Applications for the REAL Scholars Program will open on May 8, 2024.

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

  • We expect Scholars to plan their living arrangements in order to be in New York City prior to the start of Pre-Orientation so that they will be present on the first day of Pre-Orientation.

  • 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.

  • 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 [email protected] and we can make arrangements for you to be vaccinated on campus. 

  • If you have questions regarding the REAL Scholars program, contact us at [email protected].

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