An educational event in late June exposed a group of young people to a variety of leadership possibilities. And an important part of that gathering was a peek into the world of courts and lawyers.
The Asian LEAD Academy at Arizona State University provides high school kids and incoming college freshmen the chance to learn in a wide range of areas. Much of the focus is instruction in the Asian American experience (though it is open to students of all ethnicities).
Held the last two weeks of June, the academy culminated in a mock trial performed by the high school students. They spent days preparing their cases, and the resulting theater, staged at the Phoenix Municipal Court, was a terrific example of civic engagement by future leaders.
(I am compelled to confess my family’s involvement in the academy: My wife, an ASU associate professor, taught one of the seminars. And our 15-year-old daughter was a participant; she wrote and delivered the prosecution closing argument, and as long as I’m disclosing fully, she was phenomenal!)
As I see it, a significant benefit of the program is the exposure it affords young people to the legal profession. And in that regard, I have to tender kudos to a few people.
Kirstin Story is a lawyer at Lewis and Roca, and she gave days of her time preparing the students for the trial; it could never have happened without her.
And Matthew Meaker is a Scottsdale lawyer with the Andante Law Group who served extremely well as the guest judge. He guided the youngsters and used many of the trial events, like objections, as teaching moments.
Finally, Melissa Ho delivered a rousing keynote address at the academy’s closing luncheon and graduation. The Polsinelli Shughart lawyer provided a refreshing antidote to the all-too-common perception that lawyers are unhappy with their work. Melissa—who also serves on the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors—explained the value of remaining connected with others who have shared your experience. And she invited any of the graduates to contact her in the future as they find their own path.
Congratulations, and thanks, to all the participants.
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