Even in the best of times, economic challenges can derail a student’s journey through law school. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, that risk is heightened for our students – many of whom come from modest backgrounds.
In response, UB School of Law has created an Emergency Student Assistance Fund, to make grants to tide students over when financial emergencies threaten their progress toward a law degree.
The Fund is part of a range of resources – including counseling and food support – that the School of Law and the University at Buffalo provide to support their students.
“The need has increased exponentially,” says Karen R. Kaczmarski ’89, who is overseeing fund-raising for the Fund as the law school’s vice dean for advancement. “Under these circumstances, the types of challenges that students are facing are even more difficult – many have lost their jobs, the bar exam has been postponed until the fall. The economic difficulties that students face just by virtue of being students are magnified.”
Beyond losing income, she says, students may be dealing with health emergencies, limited food resources, or other unanticipated educational expenses caused by the pandemic. They may need help meeting their rent obligations or affording Internet service, essential for the current online learning environment.
Students can apply online for assistance, detailing their circumstances and their need; a law school committee meets immediately to review the application and issue funds.
Under these circumstances, the types of challenges that students are facing are even more difficult – many have lost their jobs, the bar exam has been postponed until the fall. The economic difficulties that students face just by virtue of being students are magnified. - Karen Kaczmarski, Vice Dean for Advancement, School of Law
For questions regarding the Fund, contact Karen Kaczmarski at 716-645-6429 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fund is bolstered by donations from alumni as well as UB School of Law students, faculty, staff, and others in the Western New York legal community. It received a generous seed donation from the AccessLex Institute, a national nonprofit that helps aspiring lawyers find their path to professional success. The organization has dedicated $5 million to funding emergency student aid nationwide, with grants to every nonprofit and state-affiliated ABA-approved law school in the United States.
Another major gift has come from the UB Law Alumni Association, which donated $4,000 from its pool of membership dues to the Emergency Student Assistance Fund.
“When we were told about this fund, we felt this was exactly the sort of thing we would like to be a part of,” says Scott C. Becker ’93, UB LAA president. “It tells the law students who are going to be on the receiving end of these emergency funds that when you’re out there and something crazy like this happens 20 or 25 years from now, as an alumnus you have a responsibility to support current law students.”
Additional donations are welcomed and appreciated. Gifts may be made online. “Every single donation, no matter the size, will be put to immediate use to help our students,” Kaczmarski says.