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University of Iowa News Release

March 29, 2004

Bridging the Gap Hosts 60 Undergraduates at Law School

The University of Iowa College of Law hosted about 60 minority undergraduate students from colleges and universities across the Midwest for the annual Bridging the Gap minority pre-law conference on Friday.

James Forman, Jr., a professor of law at Georgetown University, delivered the lunch keynote address and reviewed the 50 years since Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that found discrimination illegal in public education. He urged students to follow in the footsteps of Thurgood Marshall, who argued against discriminatory educational policies in the Brown case, and worked to improve the lives of minority Americans. He reminded them that Marshall was once a lot like them, a young college student thinking about studying and sports and girls, wondering how he would pay his college tuition bills.

"Don't put him above you because to do so denies the possibility of greatness within you," Forman said, adding that society in general seeks to do that by portraying black Americans as criminals, schemers or violent malcontents, such as on the TV show "Cops."

"Those portrayals blind America from the greatness that can be found in the community of black America," he said. "I urge you to follow the path of Thurgood Marshall, not "Cops."

N. William Hines, dean of the College of Law, welcomed the group at the first session of the program. He traced the 27-year history of Iowa's Bridging the Gap Conference, and reminded the group that, although progress had been made in attracting members of historically underrepresented groups into the legal profession, much work remains.

Bridging the Gap provides information to undergraduates about the law school admission process, the types of programs offered at law schools and the opportunities available in law-related fields. During the conference, participating students met with legal professionals and students currently enrolled at the UI College of Law. They attended workshops on writing an effective personal statement, Law School Admission Test (LSAT) preparation, law school study skills, financing a legal education and opportunities in law-related fields. A mock law school class and a question-and-answer panel featuring minority lawyers was held, as was a law school recruiting fair.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,