Mary Christina Merchant of Matteson, Illinois is one of thirty students participating in the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity (ICLEO) Summer Institute at University of Notre Dame Law School. ICLEO is a program designed to assist Indiana minority, low income or educationally disadvantaged college graduates in pursuing a law degree and a career in the Indiana legal community.
Ms. Merchant is the daughter of Frank and Dorothy Merchant of Matteson, Illinois. She is a 2003 graduate of Rich Central High School in Olympia Fields, Illinois. Ms. Merchant was active in Coats for Kids, the YMCA and Red Cross. She is a 2007 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. She was also a President’s Award recipient. Merchant plans to attend Valparaiso University School of Law in the fall and was honored to be named an ICLEO Fellow. “ICLEO has equipped me with the necessary tools for success in law school and I look forward to applying these rules in the near future.”
Indiana CLEO was established in 1997 by the Indiana General Assembly and Governor Frank O’Bannon at the urging of Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard. Chief Justice Shepard explained, “Indiana CLEO encourages young adults with promise to enter the legal field. The program provides training and mentoring to help the students succeed. The end result is an Indiana legal community enriched with the talents and enthusiasm of these young people.”
Each year, Indiana CLEO accepts approximately 30 college graduates into the program. The students attend a six-week Summer Institute held at an Indiana law school. This year, the program is at University of Notre Dame Law School. The Summer Institute prepares the students for the rigors of law school with a challenging curriculum and tips for professional development. After successful completion of the Summer Institute, students are eligible for an annual stipend ranging from $6,500 - $9,000 for each year of law school. After graduation, ICLEO Fellows have a supportive network of legal mentors. The Indiana Supreme Court’s Division of State Court Administration provides staff support and financial management of the program.
Media interested in speaking to an ICLEO Fellow should contact Indiana Supreme Court Public Information Officer, Kathryn Dolan at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about the application process, contact the Indiana CLEO office at (317) 232-2542. More information is also available online at courts.in.gov/cleo.