Patricia M. Hynes, President
Of all the City Bar’s programs, few are more gratifying than the Student Legal Education and Opportunity Program, which provides professional experience, development, and educational programs for inner-city students interested in pursuing legal careers.
This program has several components. Since 1993, the Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program has placed 1,200 high-achieving inner-city high school students with legal employers for the summer. Firms get an extra pair of hands for tasks like filing and data entry, while students familiarize themselves with the tools of the trade and begin to get comfortable in an office environment. In the final week of the program, students shadow attorneys in firms and organizations that align with their career aspirations.
To supplement their internships, the students also attend weekly development programs, including a law class at Columbia, a visit to a NYS Supreme Court judicial chamber, and a variety of career development workshops put on by a diverse group of attorneys. Among other things, the students get tips on the college application process and in preparing for employment, building skills in resume writing, interview preparation, and networking. The final component of the Thurgood Marshall program involves mentoring, matching law-student alumni of the program with current students, and, in turn, matching the law students with their own attorney mentors.
Twice a year, the City Bar hosts the My Rights, My Nation: Constitutional Rights Symposium, bringing together hundreds of regional high school students to discuss how the Constitution affects their daily lives. The program focuses on three different areas of individual rights that are the subject of recent decisions in the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts. Discussions are led by State Supreme Court Justices and lawyers from various City firms and agencies. Past discussion topics have included Terrorism, Warrantless Searches, Gender Discrimination in the Workplace, Free Speech, and Victims’ Rights, among many others.
For college students ready to take the next step, this year we introduced a two-day LSAT/Law School Preparation Series, co-sponsored by the biggest names in law-school testing and preparation. This program included three hours of LSAT Prep classes, as well as panels by law school admissions counselors, career counselors, and law students. Participants received discounts on classes and materials from all participating companies, and three full-length courses, as well as full sets of books and audio materials, were given away at the end of the program.
Once students enter law school, they are eligible to apply for other City Bar programs. The C. Bainbridge Smith Scholarship Committee provides scholarships to promising second and third year inner-city law students. And the Thurgood Marshall Fellowship Program provides talented minority law students with year-long internships at the City Bar Justice Center, working on behalf of low-income clients, or on the City Bar’s Committee on Civil Rights, participating in research and policy analysis. During the course of the year, the Fellows have membership privileges in the Association.
The Association, through its Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Lawyers, also runs a separate Fellowship program for New York City law students from disadvantaged backgrounds or from groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession. Selected Fellows spend the summer after their first year working as summer associates in a law firm or corporate law department. The selection process is highly competitive, and the program is highly valued by the participating legal employers.
The Student Legal Education and Opportunity Program, which has been expertly managed by our Gabrielle Brown, opens the door to law as a career for young people who might otherwise never imagine that they could become a lawyer. If a bar association is the sum of its members, these programs give us the framework to shape tomorrow’s bar.
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If you are interested in participating in any of the above programs, please contact Gabrielle Brown at email@example.com or 212-382-6624.