Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Graphic by Ofri Shmul
I still remember attending my very first pre-law event as an incoming UCLA student. It was hosted by one of the societies at school, and paved the way for my personal involvement [and innovations] on campus. I first noticed that while many of the events I attended were quite formidable, they only catered to a specific niche of the UCLA population — most notably pre-law students. Now you may be thinking… is that not the purpose of a PRE-LAW SOCIETY? Let me explain.
I noted that once pre-law students were able to get basic information regarding admission into their law school of choice, there was no further incentive for them to come to more events. The majority of subsequent events just regurgitated the same information! While students were getting the information about how to get into law school (which is extremely valuable), they were not introduced to the diverse entities that law applied to. This included overlap into fields such as business, entrepreneurship, sports… you name it! This created a negative stereotype around both pre-law students and the legal profession as being overtly dry and boring. Many students were also not made aware that the field of law is one of the least diverse of ANY professions, with racial and ethnic diversity being woefully nonexistent.
As a psych major, one of the research pointers my professors always stressed was to find a gap in previous literature that demands attention and go from there. The observations I made attending various pre-law events on campus during my first year led me to find the gap I was looking for. I noted a lack of representation of diverse fields within the legal profession (most notably business, entrepreneurship, & sports/entertainment) and a lack of resources/motivation for aspiring pre-law students to pursue their legal aspirations. I now had a blueprint to work with!
My team and I went on to resurrect a relatively new organization on campus, the Pre-Law Transfer Society at UCLA. We came together with the explicit mission of being a Pre-Law Society which would be run on the ideals of diversity and inclusion. We also looked to expand our campus presence to engage students interested in diverse fields such as business, entrepreneurship, sports, entertainment, and of course, law.
Ultimately, our goal was to create an organization where people would be proud and eager to be affiliated with PLTS. In the span of one academic year, we were indeed able to pack rooms (both at UCLA and on ZOOM) with a variety of events centered on the ideals of diversity, inclusion, and minority advancement. Don’t just take my word for it — check out our social media and see for yourself. (Here’s our website, Instagram, and Facebook).
However, while we advocated for and infused the ideals of diversity and inclusion into our organizational endeavors, a layperson would need to Google us to truly see if this was true. There seemed to be no way to showcase the inherent diversity we had in our organization to any passerby on campus. I had my “Eureka” moment when I was casually looking at the pictures of a fashion show hosted by one of the numerous cultural student organizations on campus. As I was critiquing the various outfits they had put together, I realized that fashion would be an amazing medium to showcase the diversity of the Pre-Law Transfer Society at UCLA. I also noted the various cultures and countries of origin our board originated from, which included Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria, India, Columbia, Armenia, Israel, Syria, and of course, the United States!
And an idea came to my head…
The concept I envisioned consisted of showcasing the diversity present in PLTS by creating custom sweatshirts featuring our organization’s logo and the name/position of each respective board member. What set this design apart was the incorporation of flags on the right sleeve of the sweatshirts that showcased the areas across the world each of our members originate from and the rich cultural background we all carry. We chose the color charcoal black to create a contrast with the UCLA colors on our logo (blue and gold) and the colors of each flag that were placed on the right sleeve. These flags also symbolized the ensuing diversity that is incoming into the legal field!
This amazing design and sweaters would not have been possible had I not connected with the #1 sustainable fashion company in Los Angeles, Tekton LA and their Co-Founders Christian Nunez Martinez and Hussain Ladi Saka. With their state of the art production/design facility, collaborating with them to create our custom design turned out to be a hit on campus. But we do not want to limit the sense of fashion and diversity to only the Pre-Law Transfer Society at UCLA; if you like our design, we encourage your student org/frat/sorority/cultural org to check out their website to take advantage of student pricing and get fitted like us!
While COVID-19 has prevented the cumulative UCLA community from seeing our exclusive merchandise in person, our incoming executive board looks forward to repping their sweatshirts on campus when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we can provide some testimonials from our executive board members themselves on what the merchandise represents to them.
PLTS incoming Director of Events Raquel Tahvildari noted, “as a proud member of the UCLA Pre-Law Transfer Society, I am glad to have merchandise that reflects my pursuits and values. My sweatshirt highlights my unique role in PLTS, while also embracing my mixed background of Colombian, Iranian, and European roots.”
PLTS secretary (and 2020 grad) Madeline Bejanian stated how “the custom merchandise allows me to feel uplifted since it highlights my Armenian heritage and beautifully showcases our cumulative hard work."
But positive testimonials were not limited to just our board; Incoming Harvard Law school student J.R Hamilton stated, “I am considering pursuing another Bachelor's degree just so I can join PLTS and get some exclusive merchandise!”
By designing our diversity based merch, we hope to continue to motivate and provide the necessary resources to an expanded demographic of aspiring college students intent on entering the legal profession. By combining fashion, diversity, and law at UCLA, the Pre-Law Transfer Society has become one of the most stylish organizations on campus! Let us know what you think (and whether you agree) in the comments!