By: Shari R. Gordon, Esq. and Tamara A. Mitchel, Esq., Co Chairs Summer Justice Academy for Young Women.
The New York Chapter of the National Association of Women Judges in partnership with Pace Law School, sponsored the third Annual Summer Justice Academy for Young Women from July 11-19, 2011. The Academy was founded in 2009 by the Honorable La Tia W. Martin, New York State Supreme Court Justice, to address the needs of high school women from diverse backgrounds and under-served schools, who may not be receiving the training and support needed for higher education, including law school. The goal of the program is articulated through Justice Martin’s statement: “The benefit of this unique program is to introduce the participants to the legal profession, as well as to teach life skills and core values. I am pleased that we have chosen students who would not necessarily have had the option of receiving such legal immersion training and exposure to advanced critical thinking and leadership challenges. To this end, the New York National Association of Women Judges along with Pace Law School, and with the assistance and funding support from numerous individual donors, local bar organizations and others, made possible our 2011 summer
program.”

In the Academy’s third annual program this year, 32 students from 14 schools, entering their sophomore, junior or senior years in high school, completed an intensive, one-week introduction to the law and the writing and analytical skills necessary to study law. Pace University School of Law Dean Michelle Simon welcomed the program participants on campus, and provided for their luncheon meals for the entire session.

The 2011 curriculum included family law, constitutional law and the American jury system, criminal law, health law, matrimonial law, domestic violence and teen dating violence. Some of the speakers included the WWBA’s very own Dr. Mary Beth E. Morrissey, Esq., MHP (health law), Dolores Gebhardt, Esq. (matrimonial law) and Deborah A. Scalise, Esq. (ethics and “Dressing for Success”). The program also included a visit to the Westchester County Supreme Court.

In addition to the week-long courses, this Summer’s Justice Academy for the first time added two day-trips to Washington, D.C., with tours of the United States Supreme Court, the United States Capitol and the White House. The Washington trip also included a visit to Howard University, where students enjoyed a tour by a Senior Ambassador student who explained the college admission process and answered questions about the college.

Each student was required to submit a legal memorandum as well as an additional written statement about her most memorable program experience. At the program’s closing ceremony several of the participants gave thoughtful and moving speeches. Upon completing the program, each student received a certificate of completion, a monetary stipend, and a donated ticket to a major league baseball game at Yankee Stadium, presented by program founder Justice Martin and Bronx County Administrative Judge for Civil Matters the Hon. Douglas E. McKeon.

The success of the Summer Academy has resulted in more successful outreach and increased support from the legal community and beyond. This year’s outreach began with a lovely cocktail reception hosted by Tamara A. Mitchel, Esq. at the Shenorock Shore Club in Rye, New York, which brought out new and enthusiastic support. The sponsors of the 2011 Academy include, among other individual sponsors, Berman Bavero Frucco & Gouz, P.C., Gordon & Gordon, Esqs., Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan, P.C., Dr. Mary Beth E. Morrissey, Esq., MHP, Phd., Tamara A. Mitchel, Esq., Shari R. Gordon, Esq., Nicole Sheindlin, Esq., Mr. Melvin Washington, Mr. and Mrs. Avaltroni, The Westchester Women’s Bar Association and the Westchester Women’s Bar Association Foundation, The Black Bar Association of Bronx County, the Bronx County Bar Association, the Dominican Bar Association, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, the New Rochelle Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the Family Law Section of the New York State Bar, the Westchester County Black Bar Association, the Westchester County Bar Association, the White Plains Bar Association, Lexis Nexis, Pace University School of Law, the New York State Judicial Institute and the New York Yankees.

In its first two years of operation, the Justice Academy has already motivated students who have gone on to college, and who now credit the Justice Academy with exposing them to the tremendous opportunities of a legal education and giving them the confidence and inspiration to pursue careers in law. With the continuing strong support of the legal community, the Justice Academy hopes to continue and expand its important program for many years to come, and thanks all contributors Summer Justice Academy at Pace University School of Law for their essential support.