“This was the best summer ever…I don’t want the program to end!” This remark typifies the sentiments of 19 rising 9th grade students who participated in the Law & Leadership Institute (LLI). For the second summer the College of Law hosted LLI, a five-week pipeline program that is a part of a statewide collaboration. LLI is a four year college preparatory program that begins in the summer after eighth grade and is designed for students who 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. Deans Al Watson and Mina Jones Jefferson serve as the co-directors of the Cincinnati LLI program.
Rising 9th grade students learned criminal law and courtroom procedure then were tested on the material on a weekly basis. Members of the local bar served as guest speakers daily and provided students with a variety of examples of success. Additionally students visited several offices to observe how lawyers operate in a variety of settings. There stops included the Ohio Innocence Project; Frost, Brown Todd; the City Law Department; and, Xpedx. The 9th grade component culminated in a mock trial.
This year the College also hosted rising 10th grade students, who began the program last summer. As described by one student, they have become like family! The rising 10th grade curriculum focused on civil law and incorporated a paid, four day internship. The students made presentations to friends and family chronicling their internship experiences in places as diverse as P&G to Xpedex to law firms.
The summer component is the hallmark of LLI; however students continue with the program throughout the academic year. The academic component is devoted to study skills, writing, SAT preparation, and college counseling. Hope Sharrett, the current executive director of LLI, said she looks forward to LLI serving as a blueprint for other states to follow. This is a goal shared by LLI’s board president, Carl Smallwood. UC Law’s Dean Lou Bilionis also serves as a board director.