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The Verdict is In! The Law & Leadership Institute is a Real Winner!

The College of Law hosted the Law & Leadership Institute (LLI) July 6 - August 7, 2009.  What is Law & Leadership?  Twenty-four rising ninth grade students, three teachers, two directors and one great summer! The LLI, directed by Mina Jones Jefferson, Assistant Dean for Professional Development and Al Watson, Assistant Dean for Admissions & Financial Aid, was designed for students that have shown the ability to succeed in a program constructed to provide a “pipeline” to college and ultimately, if interested in becoming a lawyer, to law school. The Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education designed this program to increase diversity in the legal profession.  Several other Ohio law schools also hosted this program.

The LLI students were full of youthful curiosity and energy that totally transformed the law school building for the summer.  They were eager to learn more about the law, about leadership, but most importantly about themselves.  Increased confidence was a by-product of the summer as well as exposure to people, places and things

The people?  Guest speakers, community leaders, faculty and administrators.  Daily they would meet guest speakers whose paths served as motivation to all.  Regardless of the speaker, the theme was the same: your path is yours to direct.  These students will no longer be passive participants in their education, their development or their direction. As one student said, “Now what I do is up to me. There are a lot of people whose story was a lot worse than mine and they made it!”   Speakers included Nate Lampley ‘YR (Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease LLP), Wende Cross (Cross Smith & Associates Co. LPA), Max Langenkamp (Cintas Corporation), Jeniece Jones (Commuinity Shares of Greater Cincinnati), Melissa Green (BE Aviation), Tamata McIntosh (Duke Energy Corporation), Tifanie McMillan (City of Cincinnati Prosecutors Office), and many more.

The places?  Several local organizations hosted the students on-site.  Students visited Frost Brown Todd LLC where they participated in a diversity exercise led by members of the firm, associates, as well corporate counsel that involved a flower and a stem (can you guess the connection)!  At the City Solicitor’s Office they met law clerks as well as senior attorneys who talked about public service and the role it played in their career decisions.  At Xpedx they met the entire legal team, participated in exercises related to corporate and employment law as well as learned what can cause paper to jam!  The students also visited the College’s Ohio Innocence Project where they met the managing attorneys, the fellows and Robert McClendon, a recent exoneree.

The things?  For five weeks students would arrive by 9:00 a.m. and be fully engaged until 4:00 p.m.  Participants learned about the theory and practice of law from Donta Johnson ‘10 and Courtney Cunningham ‘10, law student teachers who served under the direction of Bryan Jones, Cincinnati Public Schools.  Daily the students learned criminal law through innovative techniques that included Jeopardy as well as forums initially led by the instructors and ultimately by the students, which gave them a greater appreciation for teaching!

At the end of the program, the families, teachers and friends who supported these kids joined together to witness the mock trial competition. These supporters were beaming with pride and watched in awe.  Their comments were the same: “my son or my daughter didn’t look forward to the program at first, but after the first day was excited to arrive daily.”  According to their friends and loved ones, the students couldn’t stop talking about the program, whether it was when watching television and seeing something that they learned being portrayed or on their Facebook page. The verdict was that the summer was a success and they cannot wait for the academic year sessions to begin in the fall!  In fact word spread so quickly about the program that the College is already receiving inquiries about registering for next summer!