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Angelos donation to UB Law aims to increase diversity

Attorney and Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos has donated another $1 million to the University of Baltimore School of Law, this time for a program aimed at increasing diversity in Maryland’s legal community.

The John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore. (File photo)

The Baltimore Scholars Program will be renamed the Fannie Angelos Program for Academic Excellence in honor of Angelos’ sister, who is also a graduate of the law school.

Angelos, of the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos P.C. in Baltimore, donated $15 million toward the construction of the law school’s new building, the John and Frances Angelos Law Center, named for his parents. The building opened in April and faculty and staff moved in over the weekend.

Angelos was unable to be reached for comment Tuesday.

The donation will be disbursed in $200,000 installments over five years, said Hope Keller, director of communications at the law school.

The money will enable Program Administrator Lenora Giles to shift to a full-time role, said professor Michael I. Meyerson, program director. It will also help set up internships and pay for bar review courses.

“What’s astounding is how many barriers economic needs create to people realizing their potential,” Meyerson said. “[The program] truly levels the playing field so people with talent shine.”

The scholars program has existed for five years and enrolls undergraduate juniors and seniors at historically black colleges in the state, including, Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

“The better you are at understanding different people, the better lawyer you will be,” Meyerson said. “There is no better place to start than law school itself.”

For the class beginning in fall 2012, 62 percent of students were white; 13.6 percent were black; 8.1 percent were Hispanic; and 7.1 percent were Asian, according to UB Law’s website.

There are two parts to the program, which is taught by professor F. Michael Higginbotham, Meyerson and Giles.

The first is a two-week seminar for eight scholars. Students are put up in a hotel while they attend classes at the school and undertake the same assignments given to students. They write every day and are critiqued. Participants also meet with law school students and lawyers, as well as visit law firms and judges.

“It’s a very, very intensive sort of program to both whet their appetites and give them a sense of the challenges of going to law school,” Meyerson said.

The second part is a semester-long LSAT preparation course for 80 juniors, seniors or graduates from the historically black colleges, including the scholars. Classes of 20 at each college meet twice a week from February through April, then take the exam in June. Before the program, University of Maryland Eastern Shore did not even have a LSAT prep course within driving distance of the school, Meyerson said.

“There is both an obligation that’s very deep in legal education to enhance opportunities and there is a moral obligation to help discover talent wherever that may be,” Meyerson said. “If we can do that, the law school is serving its function.”

Scholars are also assigned a faculty supervisor and student mentor to advise them while preparing for and taking the LSATs and applying to law schools.

Scholars who complete the program, maintain a 3.5 grade point average and score 152 or higher on the LSAT are offered a full scholarship to the law school.

The law school will officially announce the gift during an event June 10 at the new law building.

“This is just step one in creating as much opportunity as we can,” Meyerson said.