After an intensive selection process from a national pool of candidates, UC Hastings is thrilled to welcome Elizabeth McGriff ’96 as the new Director of the Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP). Elizabeth will also serve as the Equity & Inclusion Advisor to the faculty and administration to implement initiatives that continue to make UC Hastings a welcoming and inclusive institution.
A third-generation San Franciscan and daughter of civil rights activist Lulann McGriff, Elizabeth was proudly born, raised, and educated in the City and Bay Area. After earning her degree in English from Mills College, Elizabeth says she had the “great fortune” of attending UC Hastings through LEOP. Since her graduation from law school, she served many roles in private legal practice and in the field of education, including positions as Interim Director of Law Student Support at Golden Gate University School of Law, Academic Coaching & Enrichment Program Manager at College Track, and Director of Diversity Pipeline Programs at The Bar Association of San Francisco.
“Elizabeth brings significant expertise in academic counseling, student development, and program management. She is especially adept at working with first generation professionals, students from diverse backgrounds, and those who have experienced significant adversity in access to education,” commends Academic Dean Morris Ratner.
Her career experience and personal journey through LEOP gives Elizabeth the perfect skillset to advance the program’s almost 50 year tradition of transforming the lives of students, their families, and communities. “I’m very passionate about working with students, but I’m particularly inspired by working with students who are under-resourced and have had great challenges in accessing education,” says Elizabeth.
She is also honored to continue her family’s tradition of championing for equality and access to educational opportunities. “My mother understood the power of social engineering and ensured that I did too. She was highly engaged in the San Francisco civil rights community, which meant I attended innumerable breakfasts, luncheons, banquets, conferences, and conventions as a child,” remembers Elizabeth. “While growing up, I wasn’t always thrilled to go those events, but I quickly learned what a tremendous benefit it was to have those experiences and how it set the tone for my career. We grew up learning from incredible leaders in public service, education and the private sector who were devoted to achieving equity, parity and fairness on behalf of people of color and underserved communities.”
Elizabeth knows the significant impact LEOP can have on an incoming law student after experiencing the opportunity firsthand. “I remember arriving at UC Hastings early in August, wow, back in 1993. I met with other students in the program, just before school started, and had quite a wonderful experience,” recalls Elizabeth. “We became a community and could rely on each other throughout the semesters. And now, from being a LEOP alumna to serving as the LEOP Director, I have truly come full circle.”
As the Director of LEOP, Elizabeth is excited to develop initiatives that give applicants the proper tools to succeed at UC Hastings. “I am keenly aware of the extraordinary talents of LEOP students. I want to see them stir up their gifts while at UC Hastings, go forth as global citizens and make an indelible impact on the world. I look forward to being instrumental in driving their continued success and achievement and I intend to take a holistic approach to doing that.”
Elizabeth is hoping to expand awareness of LEOP to maximize recruitment of individuals with high potential and to ensure that UC Hastings won’t miss out on the next Senator Kamala Harris ’89, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi ‘85, or Adelmise Warner ’01, Chief Counsel at Pandora (all proud LEOP alumni). “Education about the program is really important,” notes Elizabeth. “I think further access to undergraduate institutions will ensure we are targeting the types of students who will excel with the LEOP opportunity.”
Elizabeth began her directorship earlier this month. Make sure to stop by the LEOP suite on the 4th floor of the 198 building to welcome her back to UC Hastings.
The UC Hastings faculty created LEOP in 1969 to offer access to top-tier legal education for those who come from significantly adverse backgrounds. LEOP offers special consideration in admission to applicants who have been subject to significant adversity that may have prevented them from attaining numeric criteria that fully reflect their motivation, talent, and academic and professional ability. While standard numeric criteria are considered in LEOP admissions, added emphasis is placed on non-numeric criteria. The types of significant adversity that are considered include, but are not limited to: economic, educational, expectations for achievement, geographic/cultural, linguistic, disability, and exposure to bias.