REAL Scholars Program

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.


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.

Prospective candidates can access the REAL application beginning on April 14th.

Program Timeline

April 14 Application Opens
July 14 Final Application Due Date
Starting July 1 Selected Applicants Notified (rolling admissions)
July 11 - July 30 Program On-Boarding Process
July 31 First Day of Pre-Orientation Program
August 4 Last Day of Pre-Orientation Program
Fall - Spring REAL Programming for the Academic Year

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.

REAL Scholar Shivani Parikh 240x240

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

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.

REAL Scholars indoors photo 480Wx360H

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 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The program will begin with a week-long pre-orientation program from Monday, July 31, 2023 through Friday, August 4, 2023.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Fill out this application form, which opens on April 15 and closes on July 15. Selected students will be notified starting in June.

  • 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.

  • We expect you to move into your planned first year living arrangements on or before July 31. Accepted students who are enrolled in on campus housing during the academic year, we may arrange for early move in.

  • 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].