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Pipeline programs to improve diversity

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When high school students don’t know attorneys or judges, it’s less likely they’ll know how to become attorneys or judges. This is particularly true in urban neighborhoods.

To counter that, diversity pipeline programs are being created to encourage more ethnic and racial diversity in the legal profession.

This is the case with at least two schools in Indiana that have dedicated programs to law and public policy. These programs tend to build on existing programs such as teen courts, mock trials, We the People mock congressional hearings, and internships and part-time work opportunities in law offices and courts. However, Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy in Indianapolis and the Randall T. Shepard Academy for Law and Social Justice in Evansville take the idea a step further, having a specific academic focus on legal issues.

Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy started enrolling students in grades 6 through 9 for the 2009-10 school year. The ninth-graders stayed in the school and started 10th grade during the 2010-11 school year, and they will continue at Shortridge through graduation. The school will accommodate grades 6 through 12.
 

civics-15col Students in the Street Law class at Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy in Indianapolis discuss advertisements with professionals from Baker & Daniels and Eli Lilly & Co. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Many students in the program have already expressed an interest in becoming lawyers or working in the legal profession. There are a number of opportunities, including a program modeled off a Marion County teen court program, Reach for Youth, that allows students to get a taste of what the profession is like by acting as defense attorneys and prosecutors for their classmates involved in disciplinary matters.

Teacher Alene Smith is judge of the “sentencing court,” she explained. Freshmen and sophomores are eligible for jury duty for these cases.

Smith added the school also works with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department cadet training, and those students serve as bailiffs for the court cases and as ambassadors for the school.

While the court is for minor offenses, Smith said students also have the option to ask for a mediation with their teachers for issues involving grades.

Working with partners

To get a head start on college, beginning next year, juniors will have the opportunity to take classes for college credit from Butler University, a partner with the school. Students will be able to earn up to 30 college credit hours.

The school has also partnered with Baker & Daniels and corporate attorneys at Eli Lilly as part of the national Street Law Corporate Legal Diversity Pipeline Program, based in Silver Spring, Md. The attorneys working on this program in Indianapolis received a law-related education award at the Oct. 15 Randall T. Shepard Award Dinner.

That program, required for all sophomore students, is taught by Smith. Three days a week, teams of attorneys from B&D and Eli Lilly visit the students and teach them different legal concepts.

For instance, on Oct. 29, at the end of the eighth week of the program, the topic was “what is legal in advertising.” Five legal professionals – Chris Scanlon and Matthew Bahl of Baker & Daniels, and Michael Hulka, Jodie Mitchell, and Karen Flaherty of Eli Lilly – each worked with small groups of students.


civics02-15col Matt Bahl explains a case where a woman filed suit because Crunch Berries didn’t contain real fruit. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

To start, attorney Bahl showed the class a box of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berry cereal. He then explained that in a law suit involving the company that makes the cereal, a woman claimed that it was false advertising because the cereal did not contain real fruit.

The judge dismissed the claim, Bahl said, because the company showed the product on the box, which clearly did not contain real berries. The box also did not claim that the cereal contained real berries. He added that the judge also likely dismissed the claim because “a reasonable consumer” would understand that the sugary cereal bits were not real berries.

Following the various definitions of advertising and what is or isn’t allowed, attorneys in the small groups went over real magazine and billboard ads with the students. The students were asked if the ads were legal.

One of the ads was for the chocolate hazelnut spread Nutella.

In the group led by Scanlon, he described it as a “chocolate goo” that his daughter likes, and he asked the students if they thought what basically appeared to be a “chocolate sandwich,” like the Nutella on bread in the photo, was as nutritious as the ad claimed.

The students agreed that the ad wasn’t lying by stating that there was no artificial color or preservatives in the product and by claiming it’s made from all natural ingredients and includes Vitamin E. However, the students did offer that the ad was possibly misleading and should include some kind of language stating that Vitamin E is one of many essential vitamins.

Scanlon observed that all the students in his group, who he has worked with throughout the semester, are bright and pretty quick to add to the discussion. He also said they tend to ask good questions and grasp the concepts fairly quickly.

In addition to working with lawyers in the classroom, students follow a textbook and Smith administers tests based the interaction with lawyers and textbook topics.

Smith said that so far things were going well with having 30 attorneys and 10 paralegals helping with the program.

Ultimately, Smith said she would like for students to have internship opportunities with the attorneys, especially because most of them would like to be lawyers some day.

At the end of this semester, students will take a field trip to Eli Lilly. While there, they will present on various legal topics and meet with attorneys with different backgrounds.

Next semester, Smith said, the students will focus on criminal law. Marion County Public Defender Bob Hill will be involved with the class at that time, as will Kelly Rota-Autry, IPS district discipline adjudicator.

Another program, the Shepard Academy in Evansville, started earlier this year. For now, it includes 22 juniors and next year will include 50 to 70 juniors and seniors, said Staci Herrin, the Social Studies and Fine Arts Department chair at Harrison High School where the academy is located. Juniors will continue in the program as seniors next year.

Unlike the Indianapolis school, students attend the academy only in the morning and spend the rest of the day at their regular schools. However, about two-thirds of the academy students attend Harrison High School for the full day, Herrin said.

The academy classes fulfill the students’ requirements for English and social studies classes, including political science, social justice, advanced speech, leadership, economics, government, law education, and international relations.

Students at Shepard Academy also receive hands on experience, such as panel discussions with members of the Evansville legal community, opportunities to watch appellate arguments online, and other experiences that incorporate social justice issues they discuss in class.

All but four of Herrin’s students worked at the polls on Nov. 2, she said, and many volunteered for a candidate or a party.

“The important thing with our kids is to give them the real life experience and to hear from people who do it every day,” she said. The academy is also in the process of adding a mentoring program where each student would be paired with a member of the Evansville legal community.

The academy is named for Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, who graduated from Harrison High School in 1965.

While it is too early to know if these programs will produce lawyers – each has yet to have a graduating class of seniors – pipeline diversity programs have been successful in exposing more students to legal careers.

“They get to see that the law is more than what they see on TV,” Smith said.•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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