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TJSL’s CLIMB Program Wins State Bar Award

July 24, 2013


The State Bar of California has selected Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s CLIMB Program (Crawford Legal Institute Mentorship Bond Program) to receive the 2013 State Bar of California Education Pipeline Award.  The program is a collaboration between Crawford High School and TJSL to encourage and mentor at-risk high school students in law and higher education pursuits and was co-founded by Professors Bill Slomanson and Maurice Dyson three years ago with the terrific energy and support of our student leaders. 

The award will be presented during the State Bar Annual Meeting Diversity Awards Reception in San Jose on Saturday, October 12, 2013, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel.

Crawford High School is one of the most diverse high schools in San Diego County and the program, which has gradually expanded each year provides holistic mentorship in law, policy, leadership, advocacy skills, mediation, achieving academic excellence as well as tutoring, writing skills workshops, career counseling and a variety of contemporary topical presentations.  

“The profound transformations in the legal profession call for greater access to justice among underserved diverse clientele while expanding opportunities for underrepresented minorities to obtain a legal education,” said Professor Dyson.  “CLIMB as a pipeline program is a critical and central part of educating the next generation of attorneys in an increasingly diverse country and enhancing the diversity of the legal profession for greater relevance and service in this new emerging reality.  Moreover, there is perhaps no greater rewarding experience for TJSL and Crawford students nor a higher calling in education than to see lives transformed where students at-risk for dropout are developing meaningful relationships and exposure to inspiring mentors and lessons that speak to their interests, talents and abilities.  I am so pleased to see the fantastic efforts of CLIMB recognized by the State Bar, which is consistent with TJSL’s mission and ethos as a school of opportunity.” 

Professor Bill Slomanson has had a profound experience getting to know so many Crawford students and their diverse backgrounds.

“My most touching moment occurred during my first presentation there several years ago. I met Sudanese students who walked and hid with their families for over a month, just to escape what was happening in Darfur and elsewhere, prior to South Sudan’s independence,” said Professor Slomanson.

“I left that first visit, almost in tears, thinking how small my problems have ever been. That experience confirmed what I had always said about my TJSL, and now Crawford experience: I’ve learned so much more from my students, than they from me. I will perpetually work on closing that gap.   

“We began this TJSL-Crawford Law Academy association by donating several truckloads-full of library materials to Crawford, when we made the move to East Village. It is thus heart-warming to see the latest evidence of this program’s success, including the San Diego County Law Library’s Lexis training for Crawford student research papers, and the upcoming State Bar award.  

“TJSL is fortunate to have students like Diana Vasquez and Lee Vernon, who have done so much on the TJSL end of this enterprise—and, the incredibly talented direction provided by Professor Maurice Dyson and Crawford Law Academy Director Steve Luttbeg. CLIMB hopes to recruit many more interested students this fall. Then, more of them can witness what I have—as in my first Crawford visit, with those very special Sudanese students.”