Partnership and Gift to Delaware State University Supports Firm Diversity Efforts and Student Success in Law Studies Bachelor of Arts Program
Morris James is proud to announce that it is celebrating its 90th year anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, Morris James has chosen to partner with the Delaware State University's (DSU) Law Studies, Bachelor of Arts program, by gifting $10,000 to underwrite Law School Admission Test (LSAT) fees and prep course tuition. Along with this monetary gift, Morris James will offer mentorship and social engagement opportunities to DSU Law Studies students throughout their collegiate career.
“I often think about the small collection of attorneys and professionals whose collective vision and fortitude expanded a law firm from its infancy to the 90-year milestone that we are celebrating today,” said Keith Donovan, Managing Partner of Morris James LLP. “Our founders built a law firm based on values that we continue to uphold today. These core cultural values center on client service, hard work, collaboration, and diversity. As we look to the future, it is imperative that Morris James seeks out opportunities, such as this partnership with Delaware State University, to support aspiring Delaware lawyers on the pathway to the Delaware bar. In doing so, we can reduce barriers to success and create a stronger, more diverse talent pool for Morris James and the Delaware legal community.”
“In commemorating the firm’s 90th anniversary, Morris James reflected on the lack of historically underrepresented individuals in the Delaware legal community and sought out an opportunity to help in the diversification of the Delaware bar,” said Patricia A. Winston, Chair of the Morris James Diversity and Inclusion Committee. “We engaged in extensive conversations with Delaware educators from all of the state’s institutions of higher education and learned of two critical barriers to success: lack of meaningful mentoring opportunities and fees for LSAT applications and prep courses. Through these conversations, Morris James selected Delaware State University as a recipient of this partnership and gift based on its newly formed Bachelor of Arts program in Law Studies and status as a HBCU. We are excited for this partnership and the possibilities it brings to the DSU students and Delaware legal community.”
Law Studies Director Kimeu Boynton of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at DSU said, “This is huge for our students. Fees and prep courses can easily cost them as much as $500, which is a steep ask for young people from low-resource families, many of whom are already working one or two jobs to stay in college. Knowing those fees will be paid for them provides a critical breathing space that can be devoted to study rather than trying to acquire money for those additional costs.”
The LSAT is the critical standardized test which all students applying to law school are required to take to enter law school. Approximately 60% of all students successfully complete the LSAT. Only 39% of students who take the LSAT are students of color, and they currently constitute only 11% of all law school admissions.
“There is a critical need for more diversity in law schools and greater representation of attorneys from historically underrepresented backgrounds in practice,” said Dawn Sheiker, Director of Client Relations at Morris James. “We’ve been committed to expanding those numbers for a long time, and this year as we considered options for celebrating our 90th anniversary by giving back to our community, the Law Studies program at Delaware State University seemed like a perfect fit.”
The Law Studies program at the University began as an undergraduate minor, with approximately seventy students enrolled, and recently became an independent major with the acquisition of Wesley College. The program provides a variety of courses and early field experiences to prepare students to apply to law school. In 2018, Delaware State University partnered with Mitchell Hamline Law School of St. Paul, Minnesota, to provide students with free access to that institution’s online undergraduate law courses. “We are constantly looking for ways to broaden the resources available to our students,” Boynton said.
“This kind of outreach is exactly what Delaware has come to expect from Morris James,” remarked University President Tony Allen. “From the Greater Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League to CAMP Rehoboth, the Links, and many other organizations that support increased access for ALL to the legal profession, Morris James has been a major player for decades. We’re deeply appreciative that they have recognized and chosen to support our own efforts in this regard.”
Senior Political Science major and Law Studies minor Emily Campanelli noted that she often hears Law Studies students worrying about how to pay for the LSAT: “For way too many students the cost can be a huge barrier to continuing on to law school, sometimes serious enough to make them give up their dreams. This is huge win for all of us.”