Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship

The Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship (BLOS) is a 3 year, full tuition scholarship for first generation college graduates. In order to apply, you must:

  • Identify as a first generation college graduate (see our definition in the How to Apply section)
  • Submit a complete admissions application by December 15, 2022
  • Have taken the LSAT or GRE (or in limited circumstances the GMAT*) no later than November 30, 2022
  • Write a 1-2 page BLOS essay with your application materials

As a premier public law school, meaningful access to a high-quality legal education is central to our core mission and values. We believe that we have a responsibility to promote access for students who are the first in their families to graduate from college and to pursue a professional degree. The Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship is a symbol of our commitment to both excellence and access. 

Furthermore, we believe that first generation individuals bring an important perspective, shaped by their personal experiences, to any setting—from the classroom to the board room. We also recognize these individuals have the potential to become law students who have a high degree of leadership potential and a strong personal commitment to making a positive impact on society. The Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship provides students with an outstanding, affordable educational opportunity.

Scholarship & Programming

Financial Support

The Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship provides recipients with funding to cover tuition and fees (including Student Health Insurance, materials fees, etc.) for three years (six semesters) of study at Berkeley Law. This is equivalent to more than $180,000 in guaranteed non-loan aid. The BLOS does not provide a stipend to cover books, computing needs, or living expenses, relocation, etc. 

“The BLOS award has served as an invaluable gift and resource to me in law school. I have always worked multiple jobs in high school and college to pay for tuition and living expenses, which made it very difficult for me to dedicate time and energy to my classes. For the first time in my life, I can solely focus on my academics and law school endeavors.”

-Xiaolin Chen ’21

Programmatic Support

We realize that there can be unique challenges when you are the first person in your family to receive a college degree and go on to attend law school. Among these are the financial pressures and demands that often distract from an academic experience. We hope this award will allay those concerns. We also recognize that at times a lack of family or other social support may complicate your introduction into the legal profession. We hope to address these barriers in meaningful ways as well.

Berkeley Law is community‐oriented. Recipients of the BLOS will have the option to participate in the First Generation Professionals (FGP) student organization. FGP was founded and is run by students with the support of faculty sponsors. 

Some of FGP’s activities include:

  • Organizing events designed to support students in the development of social capital, networks, and knowledge, to help ensure that these students have the same opportunities for success as everyone.
  • Offering programs such as dinners with other first generation professional alumni, and a first generation alumni‐student mentorship match coordinated by the Career Development Office.
  • Facilitating connections for FGP students here at the law school, including offering a first generation professional buddy system that matches 2Ls and 3Ls with 1Ls, and an annual dinner at a professors’ house in which students have the opportunity to spend time with the Dean and other members of the faculty. 
  • Academic and other support in the form of exam‐taking skills training sessions, career development forums for both careers in the public sector and the private sector, and more.

In addition, recipients of the BLOS will be guaranteed a spot in Berkeley Law’s Pre‐Orientation Program, hosted by faculty before the official start of classes to ease the transition into law school. (Non‐BLOS recipients are also eligible to participate in the Pre‐Orientation program if they submit a timely application.)

“In our first BLOS dinner, I was introduced to faculty and staff that quickly became trusted advisors and career mentors. Building this support was an important goal for me in law school.”

-Rosa Hernandez ’21

There are also many social and networking events specifically for BLOS recipients. Typically, they are welcomed to campus with a “Family Dinner” that introduces them to key staff in the Career Development Office, Financial Aid, Student Services, etc. In the past, the Dean of the law school also hosted the BLOS recipients for a dinner at his or her home, along with members of the faculty. We expect these and other traditions to continue.

Finally, all Berkeley Law students have access to our on‐site psychologists, Academic Skills Program (ASP), field placements and externships, clinics, journals, Student Initiated Legal Projects, Career Development Office programming, and more.

How to Apply

Candidates must be a first generation college student in order to be considered. We consider a college student to be first generation if neither parent earned a four-year college degree (or the equivalent) or if you were raised by a single parent who did not earn a four-year college degree. We recognize that this is a limited definition that does not fully encompass all circumstances, so if your experiences are unique and you identify as a first generation college student, you may apply for BLOS and write an addendum describing your situation. Common examples are students who attended college concurrently with their parent(s), students who were raised by individuals other than their degree-holding parent(s), and students whose parents earned degrees outside of the U.S. and who are therefore unable to use those degrees in the U.S.; however, other circumstances will also be considered. 

Finalists will be chosen from all qualified applicants by a selection committee and will be invited for an interview in March. Interviews are required. The deadline to apply and submit all required materials for BLOS is December 15, 2022 and you may apply using the regular decision application or binding early decision application. Because BLOS applications are reviewed in January, the last LSAT that we will take into consideration for BLOS candidates is the November 2022 LSAT

You are required to submit a one to two page essay addressing the following prompt: How do you think being a first generation college student has shaped your perspective, and how will that perspective contribute to the Berkeley Law community and the broader legal profession? The essay can discuss content from your personal statement or diversity statement (if included), but should be a unique, independent essay specifically addressing your identity as a first generation college graduate. You may wish to discuss any obstacles you have faced on your journey to law school, contributions to your community, history of leadership or advocacy, and what kind of impact you hope to make at Berkeley Law and in the greater legal profession. The essay can be submitted at the time of your application or emailed to us at admissions@law.berkeley.edu as a PDF attachment by the December 15 deadline. 

What do we look for?

“The BLOS award not only removed financial barriers from my law school goals, but also gave me the validation I needed to know I belonged in the Berkeley Law space. I immediately connected with Berkeley Law staff and other students through the BLOS interview process, and felt supported and seen by staff throughout my 1L year, with built-in friends in my BLOS cohort. I was able to focus on public interest goals and involvements immediately in pursuit of my future career, feeling free from financial restraints to pursue my dreams and finally not having to make a decisions based on financial feasibility.”

-Maddison Pilgrim ’22

In selecting finalists, the BLOS selection committee will read through your application materials, including personal statement, resume, letters of recommendation, optional addenda, and the required BLOS essay. In general, our committee is looking at three broad categories in selecting finalists:

  • “Distance traveled” (in the non-literal sense). How far have you come, and what obstacles have you faced, on your journey toward law school?
  • “Potential contribution” – both to the Berkeley Law community (will you be a student leader? what activities or curricular areas are you interested in? etc.) and to the legal profession in general (what do you see yourself doing with your law degree? how and where will you have an impact?).
  • “Need” in the financial and mentoring sense. How will you benefit from the BLOS? There are no actual income or asset tests, but we’re looking to provide opportunities to those with very limited resources, financial and otherwise.

Retention and Renewability

BLOS awards are renewed automatically for up to three years (six semesters). There is no GPA or class standing requirement associated with scholarship renewability. The only requirements for retaining BLOS awards are that recipients make satisfactory academic progress and remain in good standing with the law school.