Thursday, July 8, 2010

300 Dedicated Ohio High School Students Spend Summer Studying the Law

As we get into the dog days of summer, there is a group of dedicated young people with an  interest in the law who are forgoing days at the swimming pool for some serious summer studies.

More than 300 students from six Ohio cities started this year's  Law and Leadership Institute on July 6. The Institute is a statewide program that seeks to improve diversity in the legal profession by identifying promising youth from urban neighborhoods and grooming them to be future leaders in the legal profession.

The students study law over the summer at an Ohio law school. Students entering the ninth, 10th and 11th grades are participating this year in Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.

I commend these students on their choice to keep working through the summer, and I hope to bring you updates on their activities here on the Justice Judy Blog. 

The institute began in 2008 in Cleveland and Columbus and expanded to the four additional cities last year. The original sites will house all three grades this summer and involve two law schools in each city while the four expansion cities will have two grades at each city’s law school.

“The whole idea behind this program is to enhance students’ critical thinking, writing and research skills, their analytic ability and to expose students to a professional work environment,” said Carl D. Smallwood, president of the Law and Leadership Institute, LLC. “Many of these students come from underserved communities and from families less aware of the steps necessary to prepare for college admission.”

He said the program is much more than simply “job shadowing,” in that ninth-grade summer students are in class for five weeks concluding with a mock trial; 10th-grade students sit for three weeks of classroom instruction and conclude with a one-week internship at a law firm or corporation; and 11th-grade students take ACT/SAT preparation courses to boost their college readiness, go on campus visits, and are paired with lawyer mentors on a research and writing assignment.

He noted that the program stays with the participating students as they move through high school and next year will grow again to include all four high school grades.

Partners for the 2010 institute include the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio Center for Law Related Education, the Ohio State Bar Association, Ohio’s metropolitan bar associations, city school districts and Ohio’s nine law schools: the University of Akron School of Law, Capital University Law School, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, the University of Dayton School of Law, Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law, The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and the University of Toledo College of Law.

The Law and Leadership Institute is supported, in part, by grants from the Ohio State Bar Foundation and the Law School Admissions Council.