Scholarship aims to encourage more black law students




By Jo Mathis

Legal News


When he took his daughter to Michigan State University College of Law in 2007, Eric Sabree noted that she was just one of 10 African American freshmen in a class of 393

By the time Aliyah graduated in 2010, the number of blacks in the freshman class had more than doubled,  to 22 of 299 students.

Encouraged, and eager to see such progress continue, Sabree last year co-founded the Michigan State University College of Law Black Law Students Association Scholarship.

Sabree, who is Wayne County’s deputy treasurer for land management, helped raise about $3,000 at the recent MSU College of Law Black Law Students Association Scholarship Reception.

The planned scholarship is now funded with $17,000, with a goal to minimally endow it at $30,000.

Sabree has been pleased to see the efforts Dean Joan W. Howarth has made to attract top minority students from across the country who reflect diversity of culture, religion and sexual persuasion.

The Michigan State University College of Law’s 2011 incoming class includes 27 African Americans. The expected class size is around 310.

Howarth said the BLSA Chapter at MSU Law is one of the school’s strongest student organizations, not only in number of students, but also in visibility, professionalism, and leadership.

“Having graduates and other friends of the Law College provide scholarship support helps to make our high-quality education affordable, and sends a message to the students that the people who came before want to open doors for the next generation,” she said.

Sabree attended night classes while working fulltime, graduating in 1996, the first year the Detroit College of Law was moved from the city to Michigan State University.

He noted that many alumni said they couldn’t identify with Michigan State University, or the city of East Lansing.

“But gradually some are starting to identify with it, and we’re trying to get the alumni out,” he said.

Sabree recalled that when he was in law school, many African American students had financial troubles and had to leave school.

He said he hopes the scholarship will stop that from happening to bright, deserving students in the future.

Sabree’s co-host for the event was Dennis Archer, class of ‘72). Sponsoring the evening was David Christensen, who held the reception at his law firm, Charfoos & Christensen PC, located in downtown Detroit at the historic Hecker-Smiley mansion on Woodward Avenue.