Nov. 16, 2016 –Local college and high school students had a sneak peek into the life of law students and lawyers during "Discover Law Day" on Friday at the University of Houston Law Center.
The event introduced about 90 students to law school, the legal profession, the benefits of DiscoverLaw.org, and was hosted in partnership with Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas. High schools in the Junior Achievement program included Alief Hastings High School, Alief Taylor High School, Conroe High School, James E. Taylor High School, Memorial High School, Pilgrim Academy, Veteran's Memorial High School (Brownsville), and YES Prep Northbrook High School.
"There's no single way to get to being a lawyer, and there's no single path after becoming a lawyer," Associate Dean Marcilynn Burke said in her welcoming remarks. "The possibilities are endless. There is power in a legal education. You may hear people say 'we don't need more lawyers,' but that's just not true. There is a need for new lawyers and there are new opportunities emerging every day."
The event opened with a wide-ranging panel discussion that focused on the versatility of a law degree. The panelists included Quinncy McNeal '10, an associate attorney at Mayer Brown, Tiana Sanford '08, a prosecutor with the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, Luis Ruiz '14, an immigration attorney in Baytown, and Eronn Putnam, an adjunct professor at the Law Center and managing attorney of The Putman Firm.
Following the panel discussion, Interim Assistant Dean for Career Development Tiffany Tucker led a presentation about maintaining professionalism in the legal profession. Tucker urged students to display courtesy in email communications, during telephone calls or on-campus visits, and to always be punctual.
"Professionalism is part of the process," Tucker said. "Be sure to keep your communications on a professional level for a lot of different reasons. It needs to be formal, professional and polished and not too casual. Law schools want to see you as an attorney in the world. You're not just a student, they want to know that you're coming in already understanding that you are part of the legal community."
Students then took part in a mock Constitutional Law class taught by Professor Ronald Turner. The class focused on the 1997 case Clinton v. Jones, in which the then-President Bill Clinton was accused of sexually harassing Paula Jones, an Arkansas state employee, while Clinton served as governor.
Attendees heard from current Law Center students in a question and answer session over lunch. Afterward, students were divided in groups where college students were given tips on LSAT test-taking strategies and high school students received advice on the SAT.
Discover Law Day concluded with tours of the Law Center.
Undergraduate students with an interest in law are also encouraged to explore the Law Center's award-winning Pre-Law Pipeline Program. The program, which recently completed its second year, was established by Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes and Program Manager Kristen Guiseppi. The eight-week summer course is designed to increase diversity among law school applicants and to provide students from underrepresented backgrounds an opportunity to consider law school seriously.
"It is very inspiring to see students, as early as in their high school years, taking the initiative to learn more about a potential career in the legal field," Guiseppi said. "Our aim at these type of events is to provide students with useful information that can assist them with their preparation for college and law school.
"Attendees take away valuable advice and tips that can easily be incorporated into their everyday routine to strengthen their own educational foundation."