Lincoln Law School Dean Laura Palazzolo On Diversifying The Legal Industry And Discovering ‘Diamonds In The Rough’

Laura Palazzolo, Lincoln Law Faculty Dean

“We’re like diamonds in the sky / You’re a shooting star / I see a eyesight of ecstasy / When you maintain me, I’m alive / We’re like diamonds in the sky.” — Rihanna

Next 12 months, California-accredited Lincoln Law Faculty of San Jose turns 100-years aged. It not long ago announced Laura Palazzolo as its new whole-time Dean.

In her Dean’s Message, Palazzolo writes:

For lots of men and women, ‘Option A’ is not an option. Possibly you are a single of them. That does not suggest you need to set apart your dream to be a attorney. It does not suggest that the authorized group does not need to have you, and some others like you.

Lincoln Law Faculty is devoted to turning out to be the path to your targets. We’re right here to make guaranteed you have the possibility to crush your personal personal ‘Option B.’

This week, I experienced the chance to capture up with Dean Palazzolo. She was gracious plenty of to share with ATL’s viewers her personal experiences, advice for regulation faculty candidates, and programs for Lincoln Law’s foreseeable future. The adhering to is a (frivolously edited and condensed) write-up of our discussion:

Renwei Chung (RC): Congratulations on your the latest whole-time appointment as the Dean of Lincoln Law Faculty of San Jose. Right after seventeen productive years of exercise in the non-public sector, what prompted this shift?

Laura Palazzolo (LP): Thank you. The education and learning I acquired at Lincoln Law Faculty delivered me with alternatives I could never have imagined. So, when introduced with the possibility to enable some others obtain all those open up doorways, I could not refuse.

Despite significant and really gratifying victories for my consumers over the years, I even now get the most pleasure out of looking at Lincoln pupils on graduation day. They deliver their beaming immigrant mom and dad, their screaming babies and toddlers – and I know that we’ve adjusted the trajectory of a spouse and children for generations. I am actually blessed to have a section in that.

RC: Lincoln Law celebrates its 100th Anniversary up coming 12 months. What are you most very pleased of therefore much and what key jobs do you have planned for the foreseeable future?

LP: Lincoln graduates boast some remarkable accomplishments. The 1st Chinese attorney in California, San Jose’s previous Police Main, the present President of our County Board of Supervisors, judges, small business leaders and agency partners as well various to rely. But my satisfaction is not in what Lincoln Lawyers do, I’m very pleased of who they are.

Our corporate leaders fill their authorized departments with Lincoln graduates because they know that any one who can go take care of a task, a spouse and children, and regulation faculty at night for four years straight can take care of just about anything the function earth has to throw at them. Other Lincoln legal professionals run modest companies that focus in serving the special requires of our state’s multicultural communities.

So as we rejoice 100 years of Lincoln alumni and the communities they’ve crafted and continue to build, my dream is to see this fantastic concept of a practical, very affordable authorized education and learning be embraced in other elements of the state. There is lots of passion in The us. We need to have a greater pipeline.

RC: As a one mother with three young kids, you made the decision to enroll in regulation faculty. You outlined that you had been to begin with offended when the previous dean introduced you to some others as a diamond in the tough, but then came to embrace the expression. What does this expression suggest to you and how can additional regulation faculties find out diamonds in the tough?

LP: I was raised by a mechanic and a stay-at-home mother, so the “social graces” had been never section of my upbringing. At Lincoln, the dean realized I experienced the intellectual capacity and drive to make a excellent attorney (I was valedictorian of my regulation faculty class). But I experienced a large amount to find out about how to walk and converse and gown and act if I preferred to make it at a agency. Remaining a attorney demands ability and self-assurance.

The conventional regulation faculty admissions system weeds out pupils with very low self-assurance concentrations (their standardized take a look at scores and letters of recommendation will not be on the exact degree — largely because they don’t have proficient men and women advising them). Currently we’re actively recruiting pupils with a passion for social justice, but who just cannot picture getting a attorney. It’s as well huge a leap. Between other points, they’d be the 1st in their family members to even graduate from university.

We’re making an attempt to encourage them they can do it, and that they will not really feel like a fish out of h2o the entire time. If regulation faculties want to diversify, we have to be much less overwhelming.

RC: What advice do you have for some others at this time considering making use of to regulation faculty?

LP: Law faculty is a system, not a spot. Really don’t be worried to apply just because you can’t see the close of the street. You only have to picture by yourself at the commencing, and have faith in that the system will direct you to develop into the person you need to have to be to realize success.

I was lots of years out of university when I started off regulation faculty, and I experienced no authentic concept what type of regulation I preferred to exercise. I just realized I preferred to be a attorney and I would never be a single if I did not just take the 1st step.

The cash will occur. The jobs will occur. The men and women you need to have to mentor you to the up coming degree will occur. You just need to have to demonstrate up and do what is questioned of you — a single hour, a single day, a single class at a time.

RC: You recently wrote, “Lincoln is not the place wherever fresh new-out-of-university 23-12 months-olds go to find out the regulation. Rather, Lincoln is crammed with pupils of all ages, at all levels in life. Individuals who have loads of life encounter to share.” What do you suggest by this?

LP: So lots of men and women never go after their desires because they feel it’s as well late. They picture regulation faculty to be a place wherever young university graduates go to step all over every single other in a quest to be in the top 10 per cent so they can get the top jobs. Lincoln’s evening method is designed for men and women who are presently operating.

Our pupils are searching for to progress present careers or to shift concentrate. The regulation is one thing they can use now, in their each day lives, not just just after they graduate. They’ve owned residences, and purchased cars and trucks, and raised troubled teenagers, so the discussions in our authentic house, contracts, and prison regulation classes are significantly richer because they are based mostly on a degree of knowing that can only occur from life encounter. A concentrate on application instead than competition offers for a additional inclusive studying ecosystem.

RC: What precise advice do you have for regulation companies to develop into additional varied and inclusive?

LP: There aren’t plenty of men and women of color having as a result of the “pedigree” pipeline. There are so lots of barriers — the price of an education and learning, the self-assurance to go to regulation faculty, and then the social barriers (studying to search and act like a specialist if that is not in one’s qualifications). Corporations can’t hold out to detect powerful regulation faculty candidates and give a single or two pupils a third-12 months scholarship.

That exact $50,000 could fund a Law Academy method at the significant faculty degree and get a dozen pupils started off on the path.

Double that and we give 50 % a dozen pupils a bachelor’s diploma (two years at group university and the rest at a condition faculty). The path from significant faculty to a JD at Lincoln is about $80,000 in complete. If we can detect brilliant, passionate pupils early, we can open up that pipeline so significantly broader with the exact financial expenditure. The concentrate need to be their skill to do the function, not their pedigree.

RC: It was excellent chatting with you. Is there just about anything else you would like to share with our viewers?

LP: I feel there need to be an integrated system by which men and women intrigued in figuring out their rights can entry a quality authorized education and learning without the need of getting on the type of personal debt that only a huge agency associate can afford to pay for to repay.

I have frequently informed my personal young children they should really go to regulation faculty because it will make a incredible variation in the way they shift as a result of the earth. They’ll read through that modest print and fully grasp it they’ll fully grasp how to just take title to a house, and how to defend independent interests if they get married they’ll fully grasp fundamental Constitutional rights like totally free speech and the right to privateness. Significant each day points.

Why should really someone have to be a attorney to know that? There is so significantly outcry about the ignorance of the electorate. Why? Partly because we’ve priced men and women out of authorized literacy. I purpose to resolve that.

On behalf of all people right here at Higher than the Law, I would like to thank Laura Palazzolo for getting the time to share her story with our viewers. We would like her continued accomplishment in her career.

Renwei Chung is the Range Columnist at Higher than the Law. You can contact Renwei by electronic mail at, observe him on Twitter (@renweichung), or connect with him on LinkedIn. 

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