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April 02, 2012

Elizabeth Léone 4L earned the California Bar Foundation’s Rosenthal Bar Exam Scholarship, which supports graduates with financial need entering the legal profession as public interest attorneys.

“As an African American single mother raising two kids in San Francisco, there has never been any question that my legal education would be put to use in the public interest,” Léone wrote in her scholarship application.

Léone is one of 15 scholarship recipients who will receive a BARBRI course to prepare for the California Bar Examination, and one of five recipients to receive an additional $2,000 to help defray bar exam expenses.

Before law school, she worked for nearly two decades in nonprofit administration. Léone also spent a year in Kenya producing radio programs on HIV/AIDS and girls’ education during which time she briefly visited Sudan schools.

“I came away extremely impressed with how young schoolteachers with almost no funding or other resources, were able to educate hundreds of children in buildings damaged by years of conflict,” she said. “The experience left me hungry to take advantage of earning a law degree to help others receive the same options I was fortunate enough to have at home.”

As a law student, Léone has worked to promote social justice by assisting Haitians in Miami receive temporary protected status after Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010; lobbying at the United Nations for education and employment programs to help reduce the economic vulnerability of women and girls; investigating legal mechanisms to protect Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia; serving as a tenants’ rights counselor at the San Francisco Tenants Union; and co-founding the Global Justice Advocacy Program to coordinate student-run projects with local NGOs that specialize in human rights.