OXFORD, Miss.–Fatima Mann always knew she wanted to be a lawyer, and the CLEO program at the University of Mississippi School of Law has been an avenue to help her get there.
While already accepted to attend Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Mann wanted to prepare herself for the rigors ahead in law school. She joined other students from around the country June 7-July 18 for the program in Oxford, which is a national project of the American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education. It works to expand the opportunities for minority and low-income students by helping them prepare for law school.
“I learned about CLEO through LSAC (Law School Admissions Council),” she said. “I wanted to be the best in law school, and I knew law school is a marathon and CLEO is great the training for it.”
The University of Mississippi School of Law has hosted the program locally for the last four years as a way to serve minority students. In that time, hundreds of students have completed the program and have gone on to be successful in law school—at Ole Miss and otherwise.
“These students come from across the country, come from varied backgrounds and do great things,” said Macey Edmondson, assistant dean for student affairs. “We are able to make a mark on their lives by providing the support they desire to succeed in law school, and they see for themselves what our school and Mississippi have to offer.”
Originally from Connecticut, Mann graduated from UNC Charlotte with degrees in political science and history. She worked at Apple and as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Austin, Texas prior to joining the CLEO program at Ole Miss Law.
As a VISTA member, Mann worked at a child advocacy center and created an HIV task force.
Both of these jobs inspired her to want to do more to help people.
“I always said I was going to be an attorney and was gonna change the world,” she said. “This experience re-inspired my desire.”
Students in the CLEO program had the opportunity to take Torts, Legal Writing, Property and Criminal Law, along with a number of enrichment activities including “How to Make an Outline,” “Note taking,” “How to Take a Law School Exam,” “Time Management,” and a panel of career speakers.
“It has been one of the hardest mental workouts I’ve ever had,” Mann said. “Professor Pittman was my favorite. I will be well equipped because of how he taught.”
Pittman is a full professor at the law school and has taught in the CLEO program for the past two years. He regularly teaches Torts, Law and Medicine, Bioethics, Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes and Pre-Trial Practice.
“[CLEO students] have the curiosity and the motivation to be engaged law students,” Pittman said. “Many of them will become successful attorneys, judges and other leaders in communities throughout the country. They will increase the level of diversity in the legal profession.”
Mose Hogan, a graduate of Georgetown University and a native of Bloomfield, Michigan, became interested in CLEO for the same reasons as Mann. He will attend Howard University School of Law in the fall.
“I thought CLEO would be a good opportunity to learn how to do well in law school, and to learn about areas in which I could improve,” he said. “The University of Mississippi is a really nice place. I really enjoyed CLEO and I’m very happy to have been able to participate this year.”
Nationally, CLEO is in its 46th consecutive year for the program. Over 8,000 students have participated in CLEO’s programs and have excelled through law school, passed the bar and begun their careers in the legal profession.
The School of Law is one of 45 law schools around the country recognized by CLEO for its contributions to promote diversity in legal education.
“CLEO is an organization worth investing in and donating to,” Mann said. “It should be cultivated and appreciated because of the experience it gives people.”