As the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law looks to recruit and retain students, it keeps a mission in mind.

“Ultimately, we would like the law school to better reflect the demographics of the community,” said Katharine T. Schaffzin , dean and professor of the law school. “We want the bar to reflect the demographics of our community. That’s the direction we’re working toward.”

In a city where Black people make up 64% of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the institution hasn’t reached this goal. But, it’s getting closer, and it’s doing better than most programs in the country.

A new report by Enjuris ranked the U of M ninth on a list of the 10 law schools with the highest percentage of Black student enrollment. At Memphis, 19.58% of students are Black, according to the study.

Take out the six historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) on the list — which earned the first six spots — and the U of M moves up to third place.

This isn’t the first time the school has been recognized in this area, either. During a U of M board of trustees meeting Sept. 2 , VP of student academic success Dr. Karen Weddle-West noted that it ranks in the top 25 for law degrees conferred to Black students.

“There are six HBCUs with law schools, and our goal is to be on the list of every potential applicant to law school who’s considering the HBCUs,” Schaffzin said. “I think that explains a lot of the recognition we’ve gotten.”

The law school looks to provide opportunities for potential Black students and other diverse candidates in various ways. One is through its Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law (TIP), an admission-by-performance program for residents of Tennessee and out-of-state counties near the U of M: Crittenden County in Arkansas and DeSoto, Marshall, Tate, and Tunica Counties in Mississippi.

Let’s say you want to go to law school, but don’t have the LSAT score or GPA to get in. TIP provides another chance. It’s a four-week course for diverse students, taught by U of M law school professors […]

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