New scholarships, recruiting efforts drive class size, diversity

This year, UW Law welcomed one of its largest and most diverse classes thanks to student recruiting efforts, virtual events, and new scholarships that enabled the law school to extend additional offers to students of color from across the country.

Exclusive to the 2020-21 academic year, the Tamaki and Justice Fund scholarships are the results of major gifts intended to increase diversity in the UW School of Law student community. In service of that mission, UW Law offered eight new scholarships that contributed to a 9% year-over-year increase in students of color among the Class of 2023.

“The funds helped us recruit students from areas where we do not typically get students from,” says Cristina Arteaga, UW Law assistant dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. “For some students the decision to leave their hometowns can be difficult because they want to stay close and help their own communities. In our recruitment efforts, we try to show students that the UW can provide them with the tools they need to become great attorneys and make an impact back home or anywhere else in the country.”

“When I think of this class, the word that comes to mind is resilience.”

The J.D. Class of 2023 comprises 173 students ranging from 20-52 years of age. First-generation and LGBTQ+ students each make up 15% of the student population; 6% come from military backgrounds; and students of color constitute 36% of the class. Total class size is up 5% year over year.

Current students once again played important roles in these efforts. Throughout the recruitment cycle, Law Dawgs served as student ambassadors, attended virtual panels, sent targeted emails and communications, and otherwise served as resources to help prospects identify with and picture themselves among law school community.

“It was really a difficult decision for me trying to figure out where to go to law school because I didn’t even know what I was looking for,” says student ambassador Dailey Koga 3L. “The way I was able to make my decision was by talking talk to current students — even a family friend who as an attorney. I think our role is particularly important for people who don’t know law students or attorneys so they can talk to people who have already made those decisions and are in those situations.”

Despite in-person limitations posed by COVID-19, Koga says that transitioning to virtual events and outreach presented opportunities to reach prospective students who otherwise could not have attended in-person activities.

This year, the UW Law Admissions team also worked closely with UW Law’s many minority law student associations to serve as advocates and demonstrate the breadth and depth of affinity groups at the law school.

“It’s so important to foster diversity because it creates a richer learning experience and profession for all of us,” Koga says. “The practice of law specifically can really benefit from more diverse voices in the room in order to really increase accessibility to the justice system.”

Collectively, these efforts continue to pay dividends. To date, the law school has received twice as many applications as the year prior. This is particularly important in a time when there is such an acute need for the kind of practice-ready, compassionate and ethically sound lawyers who graduate from UW Law.

“When I think of this class, the word that comes to mind is resilience,” Arteaga says. “They started the application process expecting to have the typical 1L experience and then had to reimagine what that would look like in a remote environment. I think this class is brave for starting law school in this new medium, and we thank them for entrusting us with their education in this new space.”

Graduate Programs Class Profile

This year, UW Law welcomed 126 new students to its graduate programs, including 18 concurrent LL.M. and J.D. students.

In total, graduate students represent 26 countries and territories — Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Gambia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.

Program Student Distribution

  • Asian and Comparative Law LL.M.: 2
  • Global Business Law LL.M.: 2
  • General Law LL.M.: 19
  • Health Law LL.M.: 5
  • Intellectual Property Law LL.M.: 11
  • Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.): 45
  • Ph.D.: 5
  • Sustainable International Development LL.M.: 20
  • Tax LL.M.: 18