“It was beyond amazing!” is how junior sociology and Spanish major Eliana Briceno described her experience at the Academy last summer. The purpose of the Summer Law School Preparation Academy (SLSPA), hosted by UTSA’s Institute for Law and Public Affairs, is to prepare students interested in attending law school.
For this summer’s program students can apply for early review and admission by March 23 as well as admission based on availability by April 2. Admission into the program is competitive; students must submit the program application, a personal statement and one letter of recommendation from a faculty member. Students with 39 earned credit hours may apply for Phase I (first summer session) of the program and students with 60 credit hours can apply for Phase II (second summer session).
Dr. Ana Alvarez, the ILPA’s Program Coordinator, explained: “The program provides a strong academic foundation for legal education.” Students take 12 hours of intense courses, such as constitutional analysis, legal research and writing, law school studies and torts. These courses count toward the program’s Certificate of Legal Reasoning as well as a minor in legal studies offered by UTSA’s Honors College. The program also features a weekly series of speakers including law school professors, admissions counselors, politicians and former SLSPA students to offer their advice and knowledge about law.
“The institute prides itself on its faculty and staff, who advocate for each one of the SLSPA students and help with the process of applying to law school, getting scholarships and obtaining letters of recommendation,” Alvarez said.
Dr. Jerry Polland, a professor of political science at UT-Pan American, shared some information about the history of the SLSPA.
“Subsequent to the Hopwood v. Texas decision, eliminating the use of affirmative action at UT Law School, the UT System created the Law School Partnership Task Force,” Polland said.
Polland explained that the goal of the task force is to increase the number of minority applicants who apply to law school. In 2002, the task force created UTSA’s SLSPA in partnership with UT Law.
Students who attended the program have been admitted into the law schools of Harvard, U.C. Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, Minnesota and Texas, some of the most competitive law schools in the country.