The Rural Law Opportunities Program (RLOP) at Chadron and Wayne state colleges was named the 2018 American Bar Association (ABA) Brown Select Award recipient recently. Over 3,000 people voted to determine the winner.
The award is a component of the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access, which is an annual award that recognizes programs and projects that enable affordable access to legal services for those of moderate income in ways that are exemplary and replicable.
The Rural Law Opportunities Program was recognized as the Brown Select winner out of 43 nominees for the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access.
“This program exemplifies the tremendous value our colleges bring to the State of Nebraska,” said Stan Carpenter, Chancellor of the Nebraska State College System, which includes Chadron State, Peru State, and Wayne State Colleges. “With the shortage of attorneys in rural Nebraska, this partnership benefits our students, institutions, and the community at large. We are honored to receive this prestigious award during the program’s first year of operation.”
The Rural Law Opportunities Program (RLOP) at Chadron State and Wayne State is a unique partnership with the University of Nebraska College of Law that aims to increase access to legal representation for all Nebraskans. Students from rural Nebraska are selected by each of the institutions and guaranteed a spot in the University of Nebraska College of Law if they maintain good grades in college, complete their undergraduate requirements and score well on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
Richard Moberly, Dean of the University of Nebraska College of the Law said, “The University of Nebraska College of Law appreciates being part of a partnership focused on bringing great students into the legal profession while also helping solve the problem that Nebraska’s rural areas do not have enough lawyers.” The undergraduate program at Wayne State and Chadron State includes mentoring from the University of Nebraska College of Law, trips to the law school, LSAT preparatory courses, and undergraduate internships. Once these students complete their law program, the hope is that they will then return to rural areas in Nebraska to practice law.
Initial discussions for the RLOP program began during the summer of 2016, implementation occurred fall of 2016, and the inaugural class of RLOP candidates was welcomed this past fall 2017. Each year, Chadron State and Wayne State will select five high school seniors to participate in the RLOP program.
Kate Pope, Chadron State’s Justice Studies Project Coordinator, said, “Chadron State College has a long history of offering a quality Legal Studies education and the RLOP provides additional opportunities to our students from the day they step on campus until they graduate from law school.