Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles announced Friday that it has launched two initiatives, including a fellowship program designed to engage and empower law students historically underrepresented in the legal profession.

Up to five $7,500 fellowships will be awarded to eligible 2021 summer law clerks under the LAFLA Equity and Inclusion Fellowship (LEIF) Program, with eligibility criteria including the student identifying as a member of a group such as ethnically diverse, persons, persons with disabilities and LGBT persons, according to the foundation.

Participants must demonstrate a commitment to racial equity and inclusivity, be willing to join and remain a member of the LEIF Program community during and after the summer law clerk program, to connect with future fellows and support the continued growth of the program.

The other initiative will award a $500 stipend for law clerks participating in the foundation’s summer law clerk program. The stipend does not apply to those participating in the LEIF program.

Candidates must fill out a volunteer application at lafla.org/get-involved/probono-volunteer/volunteer-application/.

“As part of LAFLA’s commitment to racial justice, we are excited to prepare students from underrepresented communities for legal careers, many of whom are first-generation law students,” the foundation’s executive director, Silvia Argueta, said. “Our summer law clerk program has propelled the careers of thousands of law students throughout the years, and we are thrilled to create a pipeline for BIPOC law students that will ensure greater equity and inclusivity in our field.”

The initiatives will bolster the organization’s efforts to foster a more diverse legal profession, reflect the communities of clients being served and encourage future careers in public interest law, according to the foundation, which noted that white attorneys account for 68% of California State Bar members while Pacific Islander attorneys comprise 13%, Latinx attorneys comprise 7% and Black attorneys comprise 4%.

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