05/21/2019

Collaboration Results in New Utah Bar Review Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship

Utah law school graduates now have the opportunity to receive financial support that offsets the significant costs of preparing for and taking the Utah State Bar Exam through the Utah Bar Review Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship (Bar Review Scholarship).

The Bar Review Scholarship is the result of collaboration and financial support among the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI), the Young Lawyers Division of the Utah State Bar (YLD), and Holland & Hart, spearheaded by Holland & Hart associate Chelsea Davis.

The Bar Review Scholarship awards financial support to deserving Utah law students who demonstrate: a commitment to advancing the goals of equity and inclusion in Utah’s legal profession; an active record of service to Utah’s diverse communities; and financial need. Scholarship recipients receive an award of up to $2,000 for qualifying costs associated with the bar exam.

The inaugural Bar Review Scholarship recipients are Athelia Graham – Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School; Jonathan McClurg – Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School; and Carlos Quijada – University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.

The idea for this scholarship came from Davis’ own experiences in law school. Shortly after taking the bar exam, Davis learned that law students from diverse backgrounds both in Utah and across the country experience lower than average bar passage rates. Coming from a diverse background herself, Davis was committed to finding ways to ensure that diverse law students in Utah could have an equal opportunity for success when studying for and taking the Utah State Bar Exam.

Having adequate resources and time to devote to studying is critical to a law graduate’s success on the bar exam. However, the costs of bar study courses are steep–ranging in the multiple thousands of dollars–and many law students cannot afford the course fee or take time off from work to study. The goal of the Bar Review Scholarship is to help law graduates who are committed to promoting diversity with costs associated with taking and studying for the bar exam so they can focus their time and energy on studying and passing.

Davis, a board member of both UCLI and YLD, recognized that the two organizations were uniquely situated to bring the idea to fruition. She began talking about her idea with the leaders of both groups, and, with the support of UCLI Executive Director Aida Neimarlija, YLD President Bebe Vanek, and YLD President-Elect Victoria Finlinson, the idea evolved into a full-fledged diversity and inclusion scholarship.

UCLI and YLD provided the seed funds and Holland & Hart is the first firm to sponsor the scholarship. The scholarship program was further expanded when Davis secured support from four of the leading bar review course companies, Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, and Quimbee, which agreed to offer reduced tuition rates for the scholarship recipients. The Utah Minority Bar Association (UMBA) is also lending its support to the Bar Review Scholarship. UMBA’s annual Charity Challenge fundraiser and Juneteenth Event will benefit UCLI, enabling UCLI to continue to fund and grow this important scholarship program. Collaboration among all these organizations who are committed to making a difference for diverse law graduates made the Bar Review Scholarship possible.

Neimarlija gives special thanks to Davis for her efforts developing this scholarship: “Chelsea is a highly skilled attorney, a passionate advocate for diversity, and a natural leader. Her work in bringing together these organizations, all of which are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal field, made the Bar Review Scholarship a reality for Utah’s diverse students who needed this fundamental support.”

For recipient Athelia Graham, the Bar Review Scholarship “permits me to give greater focus to my bar study and relieve some of the worry over financial pressures. It is so helpful to have the costs of bar preparation and the test covered so I am only responsible for living expenses for the next few months.” Graham adds, “Thank you to all of those who have been a part of making this scholarship available and selecting me! I look forward to using my legal skills to help advance the goals of equity and inclusion in the legal sphere.”

The Bar Review Scholarship and this year’s recipients will be celebrated at a diversity and inclusion reception held at Holland & Hart’s Salt Lake City office on June 11th.

At Holland & Hart, we recognize the strength of talent and breadth of perspective that come from including a diverse range of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences in our workforce. We believe that our diversity enhances our ability to serve clients more effectively and with greater creativity and innovation.

Founded in 1947, Holland & Hart is a full-service Am Law 200 firm with offices in eight states and in Washington, D.C. We are committed to taking full advantage of the rich backgrounds and abilities of our people and to promote greater diversity whenever and wherever possible. We believe that we can create advantages from our differences by building on our common values and goals.

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the goals of equity and inclusion in Utah’s legal profession. By coordinating with the Utah State Bar and its affinity groups, legal employers, government agencies, educational institutions, and community partners, UCLI strives to enhance organizational inclusion, facilitate educational opportunities and professional advancement for students and attorneys with diverse backgrounds, assist in eliminating bias in Utah’s justice system, and track the progress of legal inclusion efforts throughout the state. UCLI invites all to participate in its inclusion initiatives, which will help strengthen Utah’s legal institutions in an increasingly diverse state.

The Young Lawyers Division furthers the mission of the Utah State Bar, particularly among younger and newer members, through continued education, professional development, leadership training, social activities, public service, and other functions. The YLD embraces the Utah State Bar’s vision for a just legal system that is understood, valued, and accessible to all; and recognizes that inclusion is critical to the success of the Bar, the legal profession, and the judicial system. YLD values engaging all persons fully, including persons of different ages, disabilities, economic status, ethnicities, genders, geographic regions, national origins, sexual orientations, practice settings and areas, races and religions.

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