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VOL. 124 | NO. 178 | Thursday, September 10, 2009

Memphis Bar Foundation Nominates Ingram to Board

By Rebekah Hearn

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YOLANDA WESLEY INGRAM
Position: Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Organization: University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Basics: Ingram has been nominated to the board of directors for the Memphis Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Memphis Bar Association.
“I think the glass ceiling is definitely starting to crack for women in the legal arena. … Women today have excellent role models of outstanding female attorneys who are highly successful.”
– Yolanda Wesley Ingram

Yolanda Wesley Ingram has been nominated to the board of directors for the Memphis Bar Foundation. Ingram is the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law’s assistant dean for student affairs, director of the Academic Support Program and director of the Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law.

The Memphis Bar Foundation is the charitable arm of the Memphis Bar Association, supporting law-related activities and projects through grants. Attorneys and judges are nominated to become fellows in recognition of their service to the legal profession.

Ingram received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Mississippi, where she graduated summa cum laude. She received her juris doctorate with Dean’s Honors from Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kan.

Ingram also is an adjunct professor in paralegal studies and teaches an undergraduate course in freshmen orientation programs at the law school. She serves on the MBA’s diversity committee, which develops the high school summer law internship program.

Last year, Ingram was awarded the Memphis Bar Association’s President Award for her outstanding service to the local bar and the legal community. Ingram also serves on the board of directors for the Women in Higher Education in Tennessee and the Tennessee Alliance for Black Lawyers. She also is a member of the local Ben F. Jones chapter of the National Bar Association and the Association for Women Attorneys.

Q: What is important about the Memphis Bar Foundation?

A: The bar foundation is the charitable arm of the Memphis Bar Association, and as such supports many worthwhile causes and law-related projects, such as awarding grants to Memphis Area Legal Services and the Community Legal Center, which do wonderful and meaningful work to help those in our community who do not have the resources to afford a lawyer. The bar foundation has even come to the aid of law students who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina while they attended the University of Memphis.

Q: What do you do as director of the Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law?

A: The Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law is the law school’s program that provides an alternative admissions process for Tennessee residents. The TIP program targets applicants from diverse backgrounds who are below the median LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and UGPA (Undergraduate Grade Point Average) requirements. It is a rigorous five-week program that admits students based on overall performance and exam performance. This program is about access and diversity. TIP has enabled the law school to consistently have strong minority enrollment numbers. But for the TIP program the law school’s enrollment would definitely be less diverse than it currently is. I provide access and opportunity to diverse law school applicants.

Q: You have published several legal articles. What topics do you find yourself most drawn to when writing?

A: The two most recent articles that I published were both in the area of admissions advice for aspiring law students. My goal is to provide guidance to students who would like to become attorneys but are not sure about the path to take to achieve that goal.

Q: One article you wrote discussed the benefits of conditional admit programs for law schools. How do conditional admit programs work?

A: Essentially, TIP operates as a conditional admit program. A CAP is a program that allows an applicant to prove that they have what it takes to be a good law student despite having less-than-stellar LSAT scores. The applicants’ admission is conditioned upon their performance during the summer program.

Q: In what areas do you teach?

A: I teach legal research and writing for paralegal studies in the University College as an adjunct faculty member. The freshmen orientation course is also for undergraduate students, not law students.

Q: You are active in several women’s legal organizations. Do you think women have broken the glass ceiling in law in recent years, or do you still see many instances where women have to fight for equal treatment?

A: I think the glass ceiling is definitely starting to crack for women in the legal arena. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of very visible women attorneys, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Justice (Sonia) Sotomayor and first lady Michelle Obama. Women today have excellent role models of outstanding female attorneys who are highly successful.

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