These 30 rock
The 30 Columbians
While some law school graduates plead cases in court, 27-year-old JR Swanegan has spearheaded the MU Law School’s effort to attract minority students into its classrooms.
After working for a year and a half as a judicial law clerk in Kansas City, Swanegan took on a position as coordinator for the law school’s student diversity programs in January 2006. He has built the initiative from the ground up, molding it with his vision to see that minorities are better represented globally in the law profession. Once students are admitted to the school, Swanegan counsels them through their degree, prepares them for the bar exam and coordinates with career services to connect students to future employers.
Swanegan’s diversity recruitment philosophy is simple: If schools provide tools and support for prospective students, they will come. His efforts appear to be working. Last year, law school enrollment was the most diverse ever, and Swanegan expects it only to improve.
To prove there’s more to law than the courtroom, Swanegan works with the Missouri Bar Leadership Academy, a project that brings together young lawyers committed to improving the Missouri Bar. The academy takes up a number of community initiatives, including one that educates local high school seniors on their rights and responsibilities as 18-year-olds. “It is important to project myself outside the walls of the law school and attempt to make a difference in the community,” he says.
Rod Chapel, a friend who works for the Administrative Hearing Commission, says Swanegan adds a personal touch to his work; he goes out of his way to know each person who walks through his office door.
“What I love about JR is that he is multifaceted,” Chapel says. “He’s in a position where he is increasing awareness about a sensitive topic and makes it seem effortless.”