In the fall of 1986, Harris arrived on campus at Hastings a week before most of her classmates. She was part of the pre-orientation Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP), which had been founded in 1969 to help law students from disadvantaged communities navigate the stringent demands of the first-year curriculum. Harris had come to a predominantly white institution after four years at a historically Black university. Beyond introducing students to Socratic pedagogy, case-briefing and exam-taking, the pre-orientation also gave students of color a sense of community and a hamlet of solidarity in a cut-throat environment.

“There was already a disadvantage that we didn’t know how things like wills and trusts and intestacy would affect real people,” Matsuda, who met Harris through LEOP, says. “It was a big learning curve for a lot of us.”

In a class of about 125 LEOP first-years, Harris quickly made an impression on…

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