Sheila Bautista, AABANY member and prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office, shares the following volunteer opportunity with us:
Since 1983, Legal Outreach has provided underserved minority students in New York City with the academic support and mentorship they deserve. As rising ninth graders, students begin the program by participating in the Summer Law Institute, a five-week program that concludes with a mock trial in front of a real judge in a real courtroom. In high school, students participate in Legal Outreach’s College Bound program, a rigorous college preparatory track of after-school tutoring, Saturday writing classes, SAT preparation, mock trials and debates, life skills courses, internships, and mentoring from staff, law students, and professional attorneys.
Legal Outreach is currently seeking to recruit volunteer attorneys to serve as mentors to students participating in its Constitutional Law Debate program, one of the key components of the College Bound Program. This is an excellent opportunity to participate in a rewarding program with proven results—100% of Legal Outreach students graduate high school in four years, compared to 59% of New York City students. Over 99% of Legal Outreach graduates have matriculated at four-year colleges and 68% percent matriculate at highly selective colleges, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, University of Michigan, Smith, and Wesleyan.
One of Legal Outreach’s defining goals is to increase diversity within the legal profession. According to the American Lawyer Diversity Scorecard 2010, the percentage of minority lawyers at large firms dropped for the first time in recent memory this past year, now standing at only 13.4%. The raw number of Asian-American lawyers dropped the most, by 556 attorneys. While the proportion of minorities enrolled in law school and employed in the legal profession has always been low compared to minority representation in the overall population, this negative trend needs to be combated. By providing minority students with an early-intervention program to bolster academic preparation and vision, Legal Outreach is working to raise these numbers. Legal Outreach has been recognized by the American Bar Association as an outstanding pipeline diversity program and by American Lawyer as “arguably the legal profession’s best example of an early-intervention pipeline program—and one of the few with a long-term track record.” In fact, nearly 15% of our College Bound students go on to become practicing attorneys.