The Legal Education Opportunities Program at University of Wisconsin Law School is a thriving program for the recruitment, retention and success of law students of color.

Program Overview

LEO’s stated purpose is to recruit and retain students of color and those from other traditionally disadvantaged groups, but its objective is more far-reaching. The program provides an informal academic and social support network for its students while they are in law school, and beyond. And as Dean Margaret Raymond says, the program also helps ensure the Law School’s well-being. “We know we’re a stronger, more sustainable law school when we include the best scholars from a multitude of backgrounds, who bring with them diversity in thought and talent.”

Today the LEO Program is part of the character of the Law School. Its five constituent organizations unite the interests of LEO students: Black Law Students Association (BLSA); Latino/a Law Student Association (LLSA); Asian Law Student Association (ALSA); Indigenous Law Student Association (ILSA); and Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA). Student representatives from each group, along with appointed faculty members, serve on the LEO Committee, which governs the program.

Annual LEO Banquet

Perhaps the most visible student activity is planning the LEO Banquet, traditionally held each spring. More than 300 people attend the banquet each year, including many alumni, lawyers, judges, and politicians. It is also an event to which prospective students are invited.

Learn more about the LEO Banquet »

History

LEO owes its start to law students, who led the campaign more than 50 years ago to recruit students from traditionally underrepresented groups to UW Law School.

Much of the credit for the program’s early success belongs to one student in particular, Jim Miles ’69. As secretary-treasurer and later president of the Student Bar Association (SBA), Miles gathered information on minority recruitment programs from other leading law schools, and then drafted a Wisconsin plan. He would later spearhead efforts to raise scholarship funds and conduct recruiting trips to colleges around the country.

Miles’s work, together with law students and faculty committed to the LEO cause, won widespread praise. By 1968, the American Bar Association had named the SBA at UW Law School the best in the country, largely due to its execution of the LEO vision.

Alumni

The LEO Program continues to thrive, with more than 1,500 lawyers counting themselves as alumni. They serve their communities in every capacity, from law schools and government work to nonprofits and public interest law to private firms.

LEO Alumni Spotlight

  • Danae Davis
    Executive Director
    Milwaukee Succeeds
    Wisconsin

  • Geraldine Hines
    Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice
    Massachusetts

  • Cory Nettles
    Founder and Managing Director
    Generation Growth Capital, Inc.
    Wisconsin

  • Michelle Ramirez Lopez
    Senior Vice President & Employment Counsel
    MTV Networks
    New York

  • Burnele Venable Powell
    Professor
    University of South Carolina School of Law
    South Carolina

  • Peter Reneau
    Special Agent
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Virginia

  • Ricardo J. Soto
    Deputy General Counsel
    San Diego Unified School District
    California

  • Leticia S.E. Haynes
    Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity
    Williams College
    Massachusetts

  • Amanda WhiteEagle
    Attorney General
    Ho-Chunk Nation Department Of Justice
    Wisconsin

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