“There's a feeling when you are in a room with really great people who've done some really fantastic things in their careers—it's inspiring.”
Law School Puts Careers in Motion
Summer program aims to create a more diverse legal profession
Charles F. Brush High School senior Michael Bussey has always loved the challenge of debate—the art of illuminating his side of a story. The Case Western Reserve University School of Law is helping him, and other high-achieving high school students, channel that passion into a career in law.
Established in 2005, the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Summer Legal Academy seeks to build a more diverse legal community by immersing a group of select minority high school students in a two-week experience that gives them a trial run at the legal profession.
Diversity statistics show the law lagging behind several other fields, with minorities representing only 9.7 percent of lawyers compared with 20.8 percent of accountants and auditors, 24.6 percent of doctors and surgeons and 18.2 percent of university professors, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
"The profession should reflect the society and the people it represents," says Sarah Polly, JD, associate dean for student services at the law school. Polly administers the program along with Jennifer Cupar, JD, assistant professor of law.
The program incorporates a variety of activities designed to let students explore the law, including discussions with local legal professionals and field trips to the federal court in downtown Cleveland. Students research a sample case, which they argue in front of volunteer judges in a mock trial. Summer internships are also available, offering students the opportunity to work for municipal court judges, the city prosecutor's office, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and local defense attorneys.
For Bussey, participating in the 2010 academy gave him the chance to interact with local legal professionals in addition to his like-minded and motivated peers. "Just getting to talk with them was great—their presence was its own reward," he says. "There's a feeling when you are in a room with really great people who've done some really fantastic things in their careers—it's inspiring," he says.
See more of the picture: Learn more about the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Summer Legal Academy.