Wade Yamazaki - Supervising Principal Counsel at Cruise, ADAPT Co-Founder
As an attorney at Cruise, one of the most significant benefits of co-founding ADAPT has been the opportunity to work with a diverse group of individuals who are passionate about DEI. Through ADAPT’s platform, we have been able to learn from each other, share best practices, and develop new strategies for creating a more inclusive profession. As part of building the platform, I got the chance to use it as well.
Using the programs and templates provided, I searched for a small-team friendly program I could contribute to, and I quickly learned about the Legal Education Access Pipeline (LEAP) program. I jumped at the opportunity to mentor an undergraduate student preparing to apply to law school. LEAP is an impressive program designed to give students from underrepresented communities comprehensive law school admissions assistance through a nine-month fellowship. They even train the mentors (e.g. me) on how to best work with the students to set them up for success.
Working with my mentee through the LEAP program has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Throughout the process, I have been impressed by her intellectual curiosity, passion for social justice, and commitment to using her legal education to make a positive impact in the world. Despite facing many challenges throughout her life, she has shown a tremendous amount of resilience, perseverance, and dedication in her pursuits, her work with LEAP being no exception. The fact I can be even a small stepping stone supporting her along her journey, either through discussions of law school resumes, personal and diversity statements, letters of recommendation, or simply sharing my own journey from the law school application process to being a licensed attorney, is both humbling and inspiring.
For my mentee, LEAP is an enabling opportunity: “I believe that LEAP will be the guide that I need to achieve my goals. While I have the passion, motivation, and determination to reach the places I want to go, I lack the connections and knowledge necessary to make it to law school. Like many, neither I nor my family possess the funds to even make it one year through law school. Having access to information on how to get scholarships, financial assistance, or even the best loans to take out can be extremely impactful on my journey in applying to and ultimately attending law school. I believe that LEAP will also benefit me as I prepare for the LSAT and my personal statement in giving me the tools I need to succeed and access my full potential while also learning how to showcase that potential to law schools.” - Amanda Pepe
The impact of the LEAP program and ADAPT’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession cannot be overstated. For me personally, being a member of ADAPT and a mentor in LEAP has allowed me to start contributing back to the profession in ways I look forward to expanding on in the future.