FLI was created in 2002 through a broad coalition of Washington's bench; state, local and minority bar associations; and law schools. Recognizing that applying resources to increase diversity in the legal profession exclusively at the law school level was insufficient, FLI looks further down the education "pipeline" to high school students with historically limited access to role models and positive experiences in the field of law. Under the guidance of its Board of Directors, FLI has served nearly 500 students from 25 area schools with the help of 200 volunteers 2002 - 2009.
Data from the Washington State Bar Association confirms the necessity of FLI, as the proportion of ethnic minorities entering the bar has remained largely static for over a decade relative to general population growth. Furthermore, the state's public law school, the University of Washington School of Law, has posted steep decreases in enrollment of African American and Native American students since the passage of I-200 in 1999. Without a concerted effort to reach talented minority students before the post-secondary phase of their educations, these trends are unlikely to be reversed through law school scholarships and fellowship programs alone.