Talia Scott ’19 Launches Fund Supporting Black Women Applying to Law School
Inspired to increase the number of Black women lawyers and motivated by the prohibitively high costs associated with law school applications, the aspiring lawyer created the Legally BLK Fund, which has raised over $14,000 in one month.
Talia Scott ’19 has long wanted to be a lawyer and has worked doggedly to make that dream come true. At Haverford, the political science major wrote her thesis on the emergence of an American prosecutorial reform movement while interning in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. She commuted weekly to New York City during her senior year to intern for 300 Entertainment Director of Business and Legal Affairs Danielle Logan ’12. And currently, she works as a banking and credit paralegal at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where she has also taken on pro bono immigration work. But as she prepared to apply to law school, Scott discovered just how expensive the next steps on her professional journey could be.
“[The] costs became a financial burden and an additional source of stress, and I even accumulated credit card debt to fund my goal of applying to law school,” she said. “When reflecting on the costs and how much money I spent, I thought about how, if the financial costs of the application process were a barrier for me, they were probably a barrier for other young Black women as well.”
Scott was frustrated with how costly it was to prepare for and take the LSAT and how inaccessible that made applying to law school feel to a first-generation college graduate. She was also disappointed to learn how few attorneys like her exist in America, where only 5% of lawyers are Black and only 2% are Black women.
“As I thought about the lack of representation in law, I constantly thought about these percentages, as well as the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, which had taken an emotional toll on me,” she said. “In light of the continued injustice and questions regarding whether their killers will be held accountable and if the district attorney[s] would bring the appropriate charges, I thought about the need for more Black attorneys, especially Black women in law.”
So Scott created the Legally BLK Fund. (Its name is a nod to the Reese Witherspoon movie Legally Blonde, one of her favorites.) She initially had a modest goal: to raise $5,000 to support the costs associated with applying to law school for five Black women. She got to work quickly, launching the fund via her Instagram account and collecting money via Venmo and the I Have a Dream Foundation only one day after she first hatched the idea. But with hundreds of likes and thousands of views on her post in just three days—including a repost from Insecure star Amanda Seales—she already raised twice her goal amount.
“The moment the fund reached $5,000, I sat in my apartment and cried for a few minutes,” she said. “I was in shock and overwhelmed by all the support and words of encouragement. By then, I received a few hundred messages of support from family, friends, Haverford students, and alumni. However, I was truly moved by the messages and emails from young Black women all across the country who were thanking me, telling me that they would apply to the fund and telling me that they were so grateful that someone thought of supporting young Black women in this way. Reading those messages was the confirmation that I needed. It proved that I was onto something bigger than me and my personal journey.”
Scott’s fundraising is unique among efforts designed to increase representation in the legal field because it’s not a recruiting or financial aid project. As a law school applicant herself, Scott knows the “hidden” outlays aspiring lawyers need to make before ever setting foot on campus—she, herself, said she spent more than $5,000 preparing for and taking the LSAT because scores are such an important factor in law school admission decisions—and she suspected they contributed to the low representation of people who look like her in the legal profession.
“In order to increase the percentage of Black people and Black women in law, we would have to reduce some of the barriers to even getting into law school, which starts at the pre-law or application process,” she said.
Since June 18, the Legally BLK Fund has raised more than $14,400, which Scott says will support 10 Black women on their journeys to law school. She has had more than 100 applicants for funding, though, so she is now committing to raise $30,000 to be able to back more of them. Scott has also decided to expand her project’s scope by pairing each recipient with a mentor and by planning to offer additional support, such as pre-law webinars and classes, law school admissions coaching, professional development opportunities, and grants and scholarships for current law school students.
“The goal is to have a network and community of women who receive support from the Legally BLK Fund and are successful in their law school journey and beyond,” she said.
To that end, Scott is in the process of turning her fund into a 501c3 nonprofit thanks to guidance from Vincent Indelicato ’03 and his firm, Proskauer Rose LLP. Danielle Logan ’12, the mentor who supervised her 300 Entertainment internship, is her first official Board member. Though Scott is busy with her job at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and her own law school applications for next year, she is committed to growing the Legally BLK Fund into a sustainable, long-term entity that will continue as she pursues her own legal career.
“What started as an idea is now my passion project and one of the reasons why I am excited to start my day in the morning,” she said. “... I hope this fund and the subsequent nonprofit creates a long-lasting pipeline for young Black women who want to enter the legal profession. The goal is to raise that 2%, and I think we’re on our way to doing that!”