CHADRON – Seven students have been selected to participate in the inaugural Rural Law Opportunities Program (RLOP) at Chadron State College.
RLOP was approved by the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees during its September 2016 meeting and CSC students will begin the nascent program in the Fall 2017 semester. Impetus for developing RLOP came from the Nebraska State Bar Association, which says that 11 of Nebraska’s 93 counties have no lawyers at all, and 20 others have three or fewer attorneys.
After successfully applying to Chadron State, the RLOP students were chosen following an interview with faculty members.
“We had a very qualified group of both incoming freshmen and current students,” said CSC Justice Studies Professor Lisette Leesch. “During the course of the interviews, the committee was pleased to find out how well each community had supported these students and they were looking forward to giving back.”
Five of the RLOP students will be incoming freshmen, while two currently attend CSC. The incoming freshmen are Elizabeth Adam of Wilsonville, Gunnar Buchhammer of Scottsbluff, Celeste Cardona of Mitchell, Alexandria Nobiling of Chadron and Carter Thiele of Oakland. The current students who have agreed to enter RLOP are Tindra Norris and Kevin Zhang, both of Chadron.
Each of the RLOP students earned a full tuition scholarship to Chadron State College. In addition to the scholarship, RLOP participants will be provided with mentoring, NU law school visits and Legal School Admission Test (LSAT) preparation services.
CSC students in the program don’t have to choose a Legal Studies major, but must complete requirements for a minor in Legal Studies. Participants will also take part in a legal internship as part of the program. Upon graduation, they will be provisionally admitted to the Nebraska College of Law, provided they maintain a 3.5 grade point average and meet a minimum LSAT score.
Leesch said since CSC requires its RLOP participants to minor in Legal Studies, it allows students an opportunity to major in a variety of disciplines. She said some of the RLOP students intend to major in wildlife management, business, social work, history, and legal studies.
“One of the great things about RLOP is a student can major in any discipline as long as he or she completes a legal studies minor. This allows students to bring diversity to the classroom and eventually to law school,” she said.
The RLOP cohort will make its first official appearance during a luncheon when CSC hosts the Nebraska Court of Appeals on April 11.
—Alex Helmbrecht, Director of College Relations