65 Casco Bay High School Students Participate in New England’s First Conference Aimed at Promoting Diversity in the Legal Profession
Portland and Augusta, ME (December 12, 2012) – Nearly 70 students from Casco Bay High School participated in a hands-on educational law conference on December 7, 2012 at University of Maine School of Law in Portland. Bernstein Shur attorneys led the conference, along with Maine Law students, using curriculum from the National Association for Law Placement and Street Law.
The event, part of the NALP/Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program, is an effort to promote diversity in the legal profession, and was the first of its kind offered in Maine or New England. The program, funded by the Sam L. Cohen Foundation, partners law firms with diverse high school classes in an effort to engage the students, teach them about civil law and encourage students to consider careers in the legal profession.
“I have a huge interest in a career in law,” said Casco Bay High School student Mohamed Awale. “I’m hoping to one day see a world where there is confidence in the legal system (like in the U.S.) and where more lawyers look like me.”
Students participated in highly interactive sessions covering contract law, the first amendment and the legislative hearing process. During the sessions, the high school students negotiated a mock Nike shoe endorsement deal, created a school policy on religious expression and held a mock legislative hearing on the merits of a bill proposing to raise the minimum driving age in Maine to 18.
“The goal of this program is to encourage local students to consider a career in law,” said Charles Miller, Bernstein Shur’s CEO. “Nationally, less than seven percent of law firms’ partners are minorities, and only about two percent of partners are minority women.1 We hope this pipeline program will help to counteract those trends.”
Bernstein Shur is one of only 10 law firms across the country participating in the program, and the only firm of its size to have ever offered such a conference (usually, this program is offered by much larger firms in larger cities). Locally, the conference was organized by Bernstein Shur, University of Maine School of Law and Casco Bay High School.
About Bernstein Shur
Widely regarded as one of New England’s most entrepreneurial law firms, Bernstein Shur is a multi-service firm with more than 100 attorneys in offices in Maine and New Hampshire. Founded in 1915, the firm provides practical and innovative counsel in the areas of business law, litigation, and municipal law to clients throughout the region and around the world. Bernstein Shur is Maine’s exclusive member of Lex Mundi, the world’s leading association of independent law firms. More information is available at www.bernsteinshur.com.
About Street Law
Street Law is a nonprofit organization that creates classroom and community programs to teach people about law, democracy and human rights worldwide. Street Law program participants benefit from “real-life” lessons and insights, which they can use to effect positive change for the rest of their lives. Accessible, engaging, and interactive programs empower students and communities to become active, legally-savvy contributors to society.
About National Association for Law Placement
Founded in 1971, the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. is a nonprofit educational association of law schools and legal employers dedicated to facilitating legal career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students and lawyers.
1 National Association for Law Placement, Inc.®, NALP Bulletin, January 2012, http://www.nalp.org/women_minorities_jan2012