College of Law receives $500,000 endowment earmarked for diverse student recruitment

The University of Tennessee College of Law is expanding its reach to diverse students through an endowed scholarship program funded by Bass, Berry & Sims PLC, a national law firm based in Nashville.

The endowment aims to increase the number of outstanding, diverse applicants to the school and enhance their professional experience as they begin a career in the legal profession. Bass, Berry & Sims PLC has committed $500,000 to fund the Bass, Berry & Sims Diversity Leadership Endowment.

In addition to financial support, students will receive personalized guidance, and professional insight through mentor-student relationships with Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys. Qualified students may also enter a clerkship program with the firm after completing one year of study, providing students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience handling sophisticated legal matters on behalf of clients from across the country.

University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Melanie Wilson said the firm’s generosity supports one of the college’s goals to create a more diverse student body.

“We are committed to building a diverse population of faculty, staff and students at the College of Law,” Wilson said. “A diverse community is a richer, better-informed and more vibrant community. We are grateful to Bass, Berry & Sims for supporting our goal to enhance our community.”

Bass, Berry & Sims Managing Partner Todd Rolapp said the decision to develop this endowment illustrates the firm’s commitment to cultivating a legal community rich in diversity that reflects the communities in which the firm lives and practices.

“The legal industry overall needs new ideas to make progress in the areas of diversity and inclusion. This program aims to introduce initiatives early in legal professionals’ careers to better address the problem at a foundational level,” Rolapp said. “We’re serious about advancing inclusion in our firm and profession, and we see this contribution as an investment in these students’ futures and the future of the legal industry at large. We’re honored to partner with the University of Tennessee College of Law on this important issue.”