Law School Recognized for Helping Students Manage the Cost of Their Education

AccessLex proves to be a valuable resource for UMKC law students

A nationwide program is helping UMKC students take charge of their finances and mitigate the cost of law school.

The AccessLex Institute is a non-profit dedicated to improving access to law school. It offers a program called MAX by AccessLex at 174 law schools across the country, which provides quick, easy-to-understand personal finance lessons for students, including how to pay for law school, retirement and investing. Recently the UMKC School of Law was named among the top 10 schools in the country for personal finance course completion on MAX by AccessLex.

Dean Barbara Glesner Fines said that the high participation for UMKC students did not come by accident. The law school integrated the financial literacy program and frequently promotes its use by hosting presentations, sending monthly reminders and providing access to AccessLex counselors.

“What makes us stand out is that we uniquely take advantage of opportunities and that’s why our students do so well in the MAX program,” said Glesner Fines.

Being a law student is inherently stressful, but Glesner Fines said when students are financially strapped on top of stressing over rigorous coursework, it is apparent.

“I see it so powerfully when a student doesn’t have to worry about financing their legal education or retaining huge student loans, it affects the classes they choose, the internship they take, the ability to do pro bono work and volunteer, the ability to be in competitions, be on the trial team or client counseling team. And it affects their career choices for the rest of their life.”

While many of UMKC’s law students go on to pursue lucrative careers in the private sector, Glesner Fines said a majority go to work in prosecutor and public defender offices.

“These are such critical roles in our community in providing access to justice, but they do not pay as much as other legal employment opportunities. If a student graduates with excessive student loan debt, they may find these career choices are simply unmanageable for them,” she said.

In addition to MAX programs, UMKC students have also benefited from other AccessLex benefits. In 2019, UMKC law student Kourtney Hodge was awarded a $40,000 scholarship from the non-profit. UMKC Law also received a $25,000 grant in 2020 to assist with emergency expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those funds helped students purchase technology for remote classes, provided assistance to students whose employment was affected by the pandemic, provided child care and helped with paying for medical crises.

“They’ve been very generous partners,” said Glesner Fines.

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Published: Dec 14, 2021

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