Our firm is involved with many community service projects. One way that we participate in worthy causes is by encouraging our lawyers to be active members in various legal organizations, such as the Alabama State Bar’s Young Lawyers Section (YLS). Recently, members of the firm were key in the YLS receiving national recognition from the American Bar Association for a project that introduces minority 11th and 12th grade students to the American civil and criminal justice systems.
The state bar’s YLS received a First Place Award of Achievement for its Minority Pre-Law Conference program designed to address the shortage of minorities in the legal profession and increase diversity in the bar. The conferences are held in Birmingham and Montgomery in April each year. Students have an opportunity to view a simulated trial which provides them with a better understanding of how U.S. courts resolve legal conflicts and roles that judges, lawyers, juries, and witnesses play in the system. By participating in the mock trial as jurors, students gain an “insiders” perspective on courtroom procedure.
The goal of this program is building confidence in our system of justice, in our judiciary, and in the lawyers and judges who provide legal service to all Americans, despite barriers of language and culture. If lawyers and judges can achieve diversity, citizens will have more confidence in the ability of the legal and judicial system to help solve their problems. The pre-law conferences feature a panel of minority lawyers from both cities representing various areas of law practice. The lawyers on the panel explained their day-to-day work experiences and answered questions. For students who were interested in attending college and/or law school, the conferences sponsored a college preparation speaker. The format of the program allowed students to attend breakout sessions where they are paired with minority lawyers to discuss specific questions and concerns regarding the practice of law. Finally, the program offers a luncheon for the students with a prominent keynote speaker giving words of encouragement.
With more than 400 students attending the program, the events are a successful outreach because it demonstrated that lawyers have a strong commitment to diversity and to interacting with the community. The 4700-member YLS is composed of all lawyers who are 36 years of age and under or who have been admitted to the bar for three years or less. The section conducts various seminars and also sponsors service projects designed to aid the public in its understanding of the law and assist in solving legal problems. Our firm has several lawyers who hold leadership roles in the YLS and assist with the planning and the successful execution of many of these YLS programs. Navan Ward, Roman Shaul, Leslie Ellis, Bill Robertson, and Larry Golston from our firm worked on this project.
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