About Esq. Apprentice

Spearheading a more diverse, economically empowered, and justice-centered legal profession
– one apprentice lawyer at a time.

We make the law work for women.

85% legal employment rate

85% of our apprentices have found work in the legal profession, electing to specialize in housing, criminal, estate planning, and other areas of law that have historically disadvantaged them.

30% annual increase in wages

Our apprentices have reported an annual wage increase of 30%, leading 25% to report a decrease in the hold that finances have over their lives, month to month.

75% retention rate

With financial support that addresses apprentices’ cost of living, we have enjoyed a 75% retention rate over the requisite, minimum 4-years to program completion.

Women of color are, and have always been, the backbone of our nation’s labor force.

Black women are significantly more likely to be employed than other demographics of women, yet still experience higher rates of unemployment, lower wages, less access to work-family supports, and less access to advancement opportunities.* In our unjust legal system, they are 2x more likely to be imprisoned than white women.* They – and all women of color – make up less than 2% of equity partners in United States law firms.*

Esq. Apprentice gives women of color the tools, support, and resources they need to complete California’s legal apprenticeship program and become attorneys. As the nation’s only program utilizing legal apprenticeship to help women from low-income communities gain access to legal jobs and careers without debt, we are building a movement of women lawyers working for a more just legal system.

How We Work

The path to becoming a lawyer is expensive and exclusionary by design. But if you are impoverished, of color, and identify as a woman? You face a daily battle against systemic racial and gender discrimination that wages war on your mental health, creates significant barriers to your learning, and makes your path to a legal career painfully out of reach.

For marginalized women of color, focusing solely on bar exam passage fails to address the very real and deleterious impacts of poverty on their lives – and their ability to study for requisite tests.

Esq. Apprentice works with community law firms to secure paid legal employment for a debt-free route to law licensing, and offers a culturally responsive coaching model that is designed to meet apprentices at the intersections of gender, race, and class.

Your support is a direct investment in their success.

3 colored circle ven diagram, at the center of the intersection is Esq. Apprentice. This graphic is titled: An Intersectional Justice Model. 

Top yellow circle is labeled as "Reproductive Justice", "Promoting people's right to choose whether to have family and to raise thendamilies they do choose with dignity"

Intersection with bottom right purple circle labeled as "Racial Justice", "Increasing diversity in the legal profession by creating pipelines to law licensing for low-income people of color"

Intersecting with bottom left teal circle labeled as "Economic Justice", "Alleviating poverty by creating debt-free pathways to economic security"
From day one, our mission has been to create debt-free paths to the law so all women can create and care for their families with dignity. It’s an ambitious goal – one made no easier by the Court’s slow but steady erosion of our rights. But, we know how to make change happen. And thanks to your generous support, we make progress every day.

Rachel Johnson-Farias

Executive Director

Our Mission & Values

Our mission is to create a debt-free path to law licensing for low-income women of color, spearheading a more diverse, economically empowered, and justice-centered legal profession.

We strive to improve access to justice.

We are building a cohort of attorneys through the apprenticeship program so that low-income women of color across California can experience better access to justice.

We work to change the system.

We are setting the stage for bigger, deeper, and more impactful change. To do this we have to change how states and bar associations treat legal apprenticeships and remove obstacles faced by apprentices through policy and administrative advocacy.

We center racial, gender, and economic justice in how and what we do.

Our training, apprentice cohorts, and advocacy agenda create equitable opportunity, impact, and full participation for all.

We welcome all women.

When we say we are women of color centered, we mean all those who have had lived experience as women including transgender and gender non-conforming people.

We bring an intersectional lens and center a wide range of communities most impacted by the criminal justice system.

This includes people with disabilities, LGBTQIA individuals, low-income people, and over-criminalized communities.

We take a restorative approach.

We believe that everyone should have the opportunity for upward economic mobility and joy, and they should know that they deserve it.

We embed lived experience in every aspect of our work.

We create space for people currently navigating or who have successfully navigated the legal apprenticeship program to speak for themselves, we don’t speak for them. We are accountable to the legal apprentices.

We build an organization committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

We adopt policies and practices that recruit and retain a diverse staff and break down the structural barriers that prevent the full participation of all staff.

We take a long-term view.

We make decisions that move us towards long-term change. We keep going when the work feels hard. We are committed to ensuring our apprentices become lawyers and retain secure jobs.