For its 45th anniversary, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity will recognize 45 law schools, 45 law firms and 45 individuals who have played a critical role in supporting CLEO since 2000. The University of Pittsburgh School of Law will be among those recognized at a reception Sept. 26 which will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
CLEO was founded in 1968 as a project with the mission to ensure an education pipeline for minority and low-income students exhibiting the aptitude and passion to pursue a career in law. Its funding has been provided in part by the federal government until the year 2000 when its funds were reduced. The ABA Fund for Justice and Education stepped in to save CLEO along with a consortium of law schools, Pitt Law being among the strongest law school contributors since the project’s inception.
Pitt Law will be represented at the CLEO reception in D.C. by Associate Dean of Students Kevin Deasy who has been the School’s primary liaison with CLEO for almost 20 years.
Deasy said the School’s relationship with CLEO has been mutually beneficial, providing a home for many qualified and deserving law students who have come through the program.
“CLEO has provided us with top-notch students,” Deasy said. “Many of the CLEO Fellows we have worked with have overcome significant obstacles in attaining academic success, including students who grew up in foster care or low income housing projects, were homeless for parts of their lives, had parents who were incarcerated, or escaped oppression and fear of death or imprisonment as refugees from foreign nations in turmoil.”
Pitt Law has had a close relationship with CLEO since its inception in the 1960s and has hosted many CLEO Pre-Law Summer Institutes where Pitt’s esteemed law faculty have challenged dozens of CLEO Fellows students with an intensive six-week legal program before entering Pitt’s JD program. Pitt Law has also sent faculty like Deasy and Robert Berkley Harper to serve on CLEO faculties at both Dickinson School of Law (prior to its merger with Penn State) and the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Law.
“The Law School has been a good academic home for many of these students,” Deasy said. “And these students have enormously enriched the Pitt Law community. Many of the students we have recruited through the CLEO program have gone on to outstanding legal careers, including one who is a senior attorney with Microsoft Corporation and another who is the executive director of the Newark, New Jersey, Housing Authority.”
For more information about CLEO, visit cleoscholars.com.