As the premier public law school in the country, 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. A first generation college student is someone whose parents did not earn college degree or the equivalent. 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.
In the past, the Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship provided 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 $150,000 in guaranteed non-loan aid. The BLOS does not provide a stipend to cover books, computing needs, or living expenses, relocation, etc.
First generation students whose parents did not complete a college degree may face unique challenges. Sometimes, the lack of family or other social support also may complicate their introduction into the legal profession. We hope to address these barriers in meaningful ways.
Berkeley Law is community-oriented. We do not offer special “programs” to one group of students that we do not offer to any other similarly situated student. Recipients of the BLOS will have the option to participate in the First Generation Professionals (FGP) student organization. The FGP was founded and is run by students with the support of faculty sponsors. One of the FGP faculty sponsors, Professor Bertrall Ross, states: “The organization cuts across race and gender and is born from the common needs of law students from poor and working-class backgrounds who are often the first members of their family to obtain higher education. The First Generation Professionals student group accords with the mission of Berkeley Law as a public law school committed to promoting social mobility.”
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 else.
- 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.
Recipients of the BLOS will be guaranteed a spot in Berkeley Law’s Pre-Orientation Program, which is hosted by faculty before the official start of classes to ease the transition into law school. All non-BLOS recipients are eligible to participate in the Pre-Orientation program if they submit a timely application.
Finally, all Berkeley Law students have access to our on-site psychologist, academic skills program, field placements, the externship program, clinics, journals, Student Initiated Legal Projects, Career Development Office programming, and more.
How to Apply
The BLOS application and instructions are included in the general application for admission. Applicants will have the opportunity to self-identify that they would like to be considered for the BLOS scholarship and must attach an essay to their admissions application discussing why they are strong candidate for this scholarship. If selected as a finalist for BLOS, you will receive communication from the Berkeley Law Admissions Committee/Office. Deadline to apply is Dec. 15th.
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.