The Sarita and Claire Wright Lucas Foundation (SCWLF) was created in 2015 to honor Sarita Wright Lucas and her daughter, Claire. The Foundation, in recognition of Sarita’s integrity and passion for justice, supports African American female law students who are committed to serving the public and pursuing careers in prosecution.
Prosecutors possess formidable powers to carry out justice. They decide whom to prosecute, what to charge, whether to recommend freedom or incarceration, bargain for a plea, or dismiss a case. White men hold 79% of elected prosecutor positions across the country, but make up only 31% of the population.
By diversifying the justice system and encouraging more women of color to take on the visible and important role of prosecutors, we can help to promote diversity and ultimately a more equitable criminal justice system. Communities will see that there are people that look like them who represent their interests in court and seek justice on their behalf. Increasing the number of women prosecutors who are of color will help foster more trust, respect and faith in the law.
The Scholarship Program
Law school debt is well documented. What’s not so well known is the need for additional funds to prepare for the Bar exam. In addition to the cost of a prep course – at about $5,000 – many recent graduates must take out personal loans to cover living expenses as they take on the full-time, unpaid work of preparing for the exam.
Unlike many law graduates who head to a private practice, those who choose to work for public agencies are on their own financially to prep for the Bar exam. Those upfront initial costs are steep enough to steer people away from public sector legal work.
The SCWLF awards $5,000 scholarships to African-American female law students for bar application and preparation. The Scholarship program also offers a $5,000 incentive for scholarship recipients who secure employment as prosecutors. We have awarded 11 scholarships since our inception in 2015.
The Fellowship Program
In partnership with the Suffolk and Middlesex County District Attorney’s offices in Massachusetts we will establish a paid summer 2021 internship program called the Sarita and Claire Wright Lucas Fellowship. The SCWLF Fellowships include supervision, skills development, and building one’s professional network.
The program aims to ensure that rising 3L African American female law students from all backgrounds are able to gain substantive work and meaningful experience in Departments of Justice. Each Fellow receives a stipend for the summer fellowship.
The Fellowship program has three components, paid summer fellowship with the Suffolk or Middlesex county District Attorney’s offices, mentorship and outreach.
- Fellowship/Internship: In our 2021 pilot of the summer fellowship program, we will support African American female law students who have completed the second year or are in their third year of law school. Fellows will work in the courts alongside prosecutors gaining real world experience and an understanding of how they can make a difference. Preference for Fellowships will be given to students from the Suffolk Law School. Fellowships will be open to students from other area law schools as partnerships are developed.
- Mentorship: The SCWLF Fellows will receive mentorship in the District Attorney Offices where they intern for the summer. Mentors will support the law students during their internships, check in with them on a regular basis as they assist as interns in the courts, answer questions, address concerns and provide career guidance.
- Outreach/Public Education: The Foundation will undertake a public education campaign to inform the law student community at area colleges of the important role that prosecutors play in supporting a fair criminal justice. Foundation staff will disseminate research reports, articles, and other information about prosecution and post these materials on their website. In addition, the Foundation will arrange for speakers at least three events to talk with students in their first, second, or third years of law school about prosecutors’ roles and responsibilities.