Yusuf Abdul-Kareem, Vice President of Emerging Markets, Law School Admission Council

The Vice President of Emerging Markets and Business Intelligence at the Law School Admission Council, Yusuf is responsible for prospecting leads, securing new business, and executing a comprehensive growth strategy. He does so by conducting market and competitive research for opportunity development, business case analysis, and designing business models. His most recent work has focused on helping LSAC envision and create new growth in India. Prior to joining LSAC, Abdul-Kareem worked for the American Kidney Fund, where he developed strategic alliances to increase access to dialysis treatment for patients suffering from chronic kidney disease. He also has experience in various roles with other nonprofit organizations as well as in the corporate sector, including leading business operations as a multi-unit district manager for an iconic restaurant chain. He earned his bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism from North Carolina Central University and his MBA from Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. He also holds a certificate in board governance from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government and completed courses on competitive strategy at the Wharton School. He currently serves as a board member for the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival.

In the legal profession, lawyers serve two clients: those that retain them and society. To allow lawyers to serve their clients most effectively, diversity matters. Only then can attorneys reflect the cultures, values, and diversity of their clients. And only then can they adequately bring different cultural, racial, ethnic and gender perspectives to bear in order to more effectively solve problems for their clients and the larger community that they serve.

The process to drive diversity in the legal profession needs to start with increasing diversity in legal education. Diversity has always been a cornerstone of The Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) mission. As an organization, LSAC is deeply committed to promoting diversity, access, and equity in legal education. We recognize that access to justice forms the bedrock of every democratic society and empowers everyone in its reach.

LSAC’s central mission to expand, diversify, and strengthen legal systems in the United States and around the world, has been at the core of the organization since it was founded in 1947—the same year that India became an independent nation. For LSAC, a key driver in achieving this goal is to be keenly aware at all times of a central premise: justice is an international concept. It is the principle that has been guiding LSAC in our continuing commitment to focus our global legal education efforts in India, the world’s largest democracy.

A healthy legal system can only stand tall on the foundation of a healthy legal education system. To that end, LSAC has been deeply honored to collaborate with several remarkable Indian leaders and institutions over the years to ensure that qualified candidates from every community—and in particular historically underrepresented communities— have access to legal education. Only then can they hone their potential to contribute their unique perspectives and experience to the Indian legal system.

The work that LSAC has been doing for over 70 years globally has been integral to the legal education system in North America and several other nations. Since 2009, we have been privileged to provide some of the same opportunities and services to law schools and candidates in India.

The LSAT—India, an entrance test for Indian law colleges, has grown in size and reputation since its introduction. There has been an increasing recognition of the unique value it brings to law college admissions in India. It is now used by more than 80 law schools in India for entrance into undergraduate and postgraduate law programs. This test helps law schools identify students who have the reasoning skills needed to practice law in a global economy. The LSAT—India is unique in its approach. It tests aptitude, rather than knowledge — allowing better access to legal education for talented students from all of India’s socioeconomic groups, maximizing the chances of increasing diversity among future generations of lawyers.

At every step of its journey in India, LSAC is acutely aware that an overly homogenous legal fraternity is detrimental to society. LSAC is constantly introducing new initiatives in India to help ensure that law schools can attract and train exceptionally gifted students— and in sufficient numbers—to provide all kinds of legal services, from the everyday legal needs of families and small businesses, to courts and government agencies, to international corporations and law firms.

Recently, LSAC announced two scholarships that will give aspiring lawyers taking the upcoming LSAT-India test the opportunity to study at some of the best law schools in India. For the second year in a row, The LSAT—India Topper Scholarship will award up to ₹4 lac to the 2020 LSAT—India Scholar — the student with the overall highest reported score on the LSAT—India taken at the upcoming June 7, 2020 test administration. Taking our commitment to increasing diversity in legal education even further, LSAC’s president and CEO, Kellye Testy, introduced a new diversity-focused scholarship— the LSAT—India Diversity Scholarship in India last month. This scholarship, which is aimed at allowing better access to legal education for talented students across all of India’s socioeconomic groups, will be based on an essay competition, with a maximum of ₹4 lac being awarded to the 2020 LSAT—India Diversity applicant who submits the winning essay.

Beyond the important task of admissions testing in India, LSAC continues to collaborate with some truly extraordinary Indian lawyers and educationists as part of the larger effort to drive diversity with India’s legal education system. Earlier this year, we lost one such extraordinary lawyer and educationist— Prof. Shamnad Basheer. He was one of the most influential and impactful lawyers and academics in India, and an incredible visionary.

Prof. Basheer was a scholar par excellence, and a deep thinking academic, who shaped the course of IP law and policy in India, pursued some landmark Public Interest Litigations, wrote high-impact scholarship, and initiated groundbreaking measures to increase diversity in the legal fraternity. He was also the founder of Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education (IDIA), a non-profit organization working in India which aims to empower underprivileged children by giving them access to quality legal education.

At LSAC, we are honoring his memory by instating the Shamnad Basheer Access To Justice Scholarship. This scholarship will provide access to deserving students from traditionally underrepresented communities who embody the values, grit, and tenacity that Prof. Basheer exemplified. Through this scholarship, we look forward to opening doors and providing increased opportunities for talented students and law school aspirants.

Going forward, LSAC will continue to strongly ramp up its efforts in India to ensure that members of underrepresented communities have access to legal education and can contribute their perspectives, their stories, and their experiences. We recognize, at every step of our journey, that a commitment to diversity is crucial to the legal profession’s ability to defend and uphold the rule of law as well as to deliver legal services more efficiently, effectively, and to a wider audience. Diversity, inclusion, and access will continue to fuel our passion to do more and to make a difference.

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