In recognition of its leadership in furthering diversity and inclusion both on campus and in the legal community, the Chapman University Fowler School of Law was recently named Corporate Citizen of the Year by the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association (OCHBA).

During the OCHBA’s 44th Annual Scholarship Gala on March 12 at the Irvine Marriott, OCHBA President Christopher Ayala presented the Corporate Citizen award to Assistant Dean of Admission and Diversity Initiatives Justin Cruz, who was introduced by Ashleigh Aitken, of counsel at Aitken Aitken Cohn.

“It takes a village to do the important work of diversity, equity and inclusion and so many members of the village are here tonight,” said Cruz during his acceptance speech on behalf of the Fowler School of Law, thanking Interim Dean Marisa Cianciarulo and the “many attorneys and judges in attendance who have participated in our law school pipeline initiatives over the years.”

Those pipeline initiatives include the summer Law PLUS Program, an immersive 5-week experience for community college and undergraduate students interested in law school, the yearly Diversity Day for local high school students in the Santa Ana Unified School District ,and the annual Youth Summit with Santa Ana High School’s Elizabeth G. Macias Legal Studies Academy. Chapman University is also a member school in the exclusive California LAW Pathways program, which creates a clear educational pipeline for diverse students from high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions into law schools or law-related careers.

This fall, the Fowler School of Law welcomed the academically strongest and most diverse incoming class in its history, with 53% of students coming from underrepresented populations and first-generation students making up 28% of the class. The law school provides scholarships as well as a robust support and mentorship program for first-generation students to enhance academic success, professional development, and personal growth.

“I am very proud to see the Fowler School of Law recognized for its successful efforts to recruit, enroll and retain law students who belong to communities traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession,” Cianciarulo said. “To be recognized as a leader in diversity by the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association is an honor that we will continue to strive to deserve.”