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LLI Launches College Scholars Program

By Heather Creed on December 22, 2016 - 3:19pm
Thanks to a generous grant from Access Group, the Law and Leadership Institute (LLI) is launching an extension of the LLI program for our graduates during their college years. We now will be able to provide resources to LLI graduates who will be entering college in the fall of 2017 as well as the LLI graduates who already are enrolled in college. The goal of the LLI College Scholars program is to bridge the gap between high school graduation and acceptance into a post-secondary education institution by ensuring college academic success. The program will include workshops and seminars geared toward college issues held during holiday breaks, means of (re)connecting with other LLI alumni through reunions and social media, LSAT/GRE prep courses, and mentors for each participant.
As we launch the program, we are looking for volunteer mentors in all six of our host cities who have had academic success in college and (preferably) were admitted to law school, to share about their own experiences and give guidance to the college scholars as they navigate this new territory. Mentors will contact students at least four times a year, and at least twice after college graduation. If you are interested in volunteering your time to make a difference, please click here

The Columbus Bar Foundation Challenge on Behalf of LLI

By Heather Creed on December 14, 2016 - 10:58am
The Columbus Bar Foundation has issued a challenge to Columbus lawyers:  The Foundation will match each Columbus lawyer’s donation to the Law and Leadership Institute made before February 15, 2017, up to a total of $20,000.  Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur has already pledged $7,500 to the 2016-17 challenge, and other law offices are conducting their own LLI fund drives.  
This is the third year in which the Columbus Bar Foundation has made a challenge grant.  Last year, lawyers responded with over $50,000 in donations to LLI.  Together these gifts plus the Foundation’s $20,000 matching grant funded 35 students from underserved neighborhoods to participate for the year in LLI’s enrichment programs.  
The generosity of the Columbus legal community is changing lives.  Columbus LLI graduates are on their way to become lawyers and leaders.   Out of the 57 Columbus LLI graduates from 2012-2016, all but one went to college.  96% of the Columbus LLI graduates who have stayed in touch with LLI remain in college, and LLI is in touch with 87.5% of these graduates, according to LLI President Steve Jemison, former vice president/general counsel of Procter and Gamble.
Alexis Apparicio is one of these LLI graduates.  Now in her senior year at Ohio University, Ms. Apparicio has already applied to attend law school next fall.  In addition to her strong academic record, she serves as a Senator on the university's Student Senate, president of her sorority, president of the local NAACP chapter, and a mentor to incoming OU students.  

Alexis credits LLI on her Facebook page as contributing to her success.  “LLI’s preparation in legal writing, public speaking, and acting professionally sets you apart from your peers when you want to secure a job or a research opportunity, “ she notes.  She points, as particularly helpful, to LLI’s mock trial program, writing preparation seminars, the senior forum on public policy, and preparation in professional approaches.  Her internship at the Benesch law firm provided an opportunity to watch how legal professionals interact.  
On LLI, President of the Columbus Bar Foundation, Tom Hill, recently said “Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘If we are to reach real peace in this world . . we shall have to begin with children.’ That’s what the Law and Leadership Institute does – it begins with the children.  From the humblest and most challenging of beginnings, children who have the talent, who work hard, and who are shown the way can become our future leaders who will light the way. The Law and Leadership Institute shows young people the way.  It gives them the inspiration – “I can do this.”  There is no cause more worthy of your support than this.”

The Breadth of the Legal Community’s Support for LLI

By Heather Creed on December 13, 2016 - 12:19pm
As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” At the Law and Leadership Institute, it takes a legal community to change the future of Ohio high school students. We recently set out to explore the breadth of our support by reaching out to various members of the community to discover why they have invested their time or resources into LLI.
Since the beginning of LLI, Ohio’s law schools have housed the program, providing an opportunity for high school students to sit in the very seats we hope they will occupy in the future.  The environment of rigorous thinking and hard work is one that carries over into the students’ experience creating a culture difficult to replicate elsewhere.
Toledo Professor Ben Davis shared of his experience, “Since the inception of LLI at Toledo, I have spoken to the incoming and returning LLI students. The interaction between the law faculty and the LLI students has been one of the highlights of the program and my year.  It is a privilege to connect with these young people, help them discover the law, and learn what it takes to be successful in school and life. The students’ commitment to the program inspires me and I hope our efforts inspire the LLI students to reach higher for their future success.”
A key component to the law school experience is the organization’s law school instructors. Having law students serve as instructors allows LLI students to see the possibilities for themselves in just a few years. But the law students also grow from the experience.  As Ryan Rhodes, a 2L at the University of Akron School of Law said, "The Law and Leadership Institute allows urban students to gain exposure to ideals, people, and places that the students would not have had otherwise. I support the Law and Leadership Institute for many reasons. The first of which is my background and upbringing. I went to high-school in Newark, NJ, an urban city with many of the same problems and disturbances from success that the students from LLI would have to face on a daily basis. Working for the Law and Leadership Institute has allowed me to ‘pay it forward’ as I was able to see myself in many of the students. The second reason I support LLI is that it supplements the students' high-school education with its own curriculum. This curriculum allows students to delve into the law at an early age and perhaps, spark a passion. The legal profession needs more diversity and LLI is a grass-roots program that fosters much needed diversity." 
In the second year of the program, students move out of the classroom into law offices where their understanding moves beyond the academic and grows to include the practical application of what they have been learning.  Perhaps more than any other component of the LLI program, this could not be accomplished without the tremendous support of the legal community.
“Vorys – and its attorneys, paralegals and staff across Ohio – has been dedicated in supporting LLI since its inception.  The choice was a simple one for us.  We have made it a priority for nearly 110 years to continue to give back to the legal profession because the legal profession has provided so much to each of us.  Our success is built upon the creativeness and ingenuity of our youngest lawyer leaders, and we will do whatever we can to make sure those traits persist in future generations of Vorys attorneys. We fully appreciate the importance and benefits of serving clients with attorney teams that are as diverse as the communities in which we practice; and, we understand the importance of supporting students who come from traditionally underprivileged communities and doing all that is necessary to expose them to careers in the profession.  We’re extremely proud to have played just a small part in the growth and success of the LLI program and each of us at Vorys are eager to one day see these young students grow and develop into future leaders within the profession and community.”    -- Fred Ransier, chair of the Vorys Diversity Committee

When all is said and done, LLI would not exist without the support of numerous volunteers, financial supporters, the law schools, and law students.  For all this support, we are very grateful!

Victoria Efetevbia, Georgetown University

By Heather Creed on June 29, 2016 - 6:18pm
Columbus LLI graduate Victoria Efetevbia writes from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) where she is doing a Georgetown University semester abroad.  
She is enrolled in courses about Twentieth Century Africa, the British legacy of the Atlantic slave trade, technology and society, and Yoruba, a Nigerian language.   In the short term, this study fits her major in sociology and minor in African American studies.  In the long term, she plans to work to advance social justice, and hopes that studying abroad serves that goal as well.  
“I am very passionate about domestic U.S. issues,” she says. “But, SOAS has really opened my eyes to how domestic issues connect with international issues.  It has sparked an interest in human rights for me.”
After graduation from Georgetown next year, Victoria will pursue a law degree and a graduate degree in public policy, perhaps also an LL.M., the advanced degree in law.  Once a lawyer, she anticipates working in the areas of criminal justice and racial equality.  Long term she hopes to run her own think tank.
“The confidence that I have in myself today to dream big and question everything is heavily influenced by my LLI rearing,” she writes.
She also notes LLI’s role in understanding the importance of professionalism.  She adds that LLI teachers “really enforced the notion that preparation is always key -– in debate competitions, exams, networking, and for success in general.”  Besides, she says, “[At LLI] I learned a lot of cool things about the legal field that most kids my age at the time were not exposed to.”
Victoria’s advice to current LLI students?  “First and foremost, stay in the program for all four years if you can.  Secondly, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  I was always insecure about the way I talked.  But, pushing myself to pursue leadership roles in LLI competitions and speaking up in class helped me. LLI is a safe space where you should always feel comfortable challenging yourself and stumbling sometimes.”

Shelby Johnson-McMillan, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

By Heather Creed on June 29, 2016 - 6:17pm
Shelby Johnson-McMillan thought about the television series “Law and Order” when she first heard about the Law and Leadership Institute.  But after attending LLI she could better gauge what lawyers do.  “This is what I want to do,” she decided.  As the result of LLI, she also has more tools to achieve that dream.
Shelby became intrigued with the idea of becoming an attorney during LLI’s mock trial program and reached a turning point in her commitment to becoming a lawyer after interning at the Oldham Kramer law firm.  “Mr. Kramer let me follow him as he went to court, throughout his work day,” she recalled.  “I was inspired.  I wanted to be like him and his co-workers.” 
At LLI, she learned to take timed tests, to speak effectively to a variety of audiences, and to be professional, including not only dressing the part but arriving slightly early and more.  Reflecting on how LLI helped her, she advises those now at LLI to take the program seriously.  “Don’t just come for the stipend.  It will help you and open your eyes.”
Now Shelby is a second-year student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, majoring in psychology and criminal justice.  As a high school senior, she had looked for a university that was far away from home, historically serving black students, with a strong psychology program and active students.  NCA&TSU fills that bill for her.  
“I’m on my own and learning about something that interests me,” she explains.  “It’s fun.  I didn’t think I would like college this much.”
Following these interests with some devotion, she has earned academic honors at NC A&TSU.  
What’s next?  Though she wanted to be far away from home for college, Shelby wants to return to Akron both for law school and a legal practice.

Noah Allen, Ohio University

By Heather Creed on June 29, 2016 - 6:15pm
LLI Columbus graduate Noah Allen won a position on Ohio University’s Mock Trial Team through a campus-wide competition.   Now his team has advanced from the regional to the national mock trial competition, the only new mock trial team to do so.  And he was honored as Outstanding Witness at the opening rounds of the national competition.   It’s all part of his preparation for becoming a lawyer.
“Before LLI, I hadn’t considered being a lawyer,” Noah recalled.  “LLI taught us what’s involved in being a lawyer.  LLI also helped me to improve my writing, study techniques, public speaking – tools that would help me achieve my goals.”
He added, “LLI was fun.  I especially liked the mock trials and debate.  Through these, I discovered my love of ovation.”
During the second summer of LLI, Noah interned at the law firm Bricker & Eckler.  “I got to speak to attorneys in different fields of law,” he said about the internship.  “I learned what they do on an every day basis.  I was impressed with Bricker & Eckler in general.”
What advice would he offer those just starting LLI?  “I know that you have to go a lot and do a lot,” he said.  “But stay with it!  You’ll get a lot more out of LLI than you would get out of hanging out for the summer.”
Noah clearly has stayed with it as he works toward graduation from Ohio University in 2018 and then on to law school.

Melvin Smith-Williams, The Ohio State University

By Heather Creed on June 29, 2016 - 6:13pm
Melvin Smith-Williams first heard about LLI through a teacher at Mifflin Middle School.  He was a part of a student group called the Gentlemen’s Club and because he had a strong interest in law, his principal nominated him for the program and encouraged him to apply.  He attended Eastmoor Academy during high school.
During his LLI experience, Melvin enjoyed participating in debates, mock trial competitions, and various presentations.  He particularly enjoyed his experience interning at Reminger.  “I enjoyed being able to present in front of attorneys to participate in a moot court competition.  We researched extensively and it was a scary but wonderful experience.  That experience, in that environment, was a turning point and made me want to become an attorney.  It is one thing to hear about what attorneys do, but seeing and talking to them every day made me feel special and was an environment I wanted to be a part of one day.”  
Melvin is a rising junior majoring in Political Science.  He recently transferred from the University of Akron to The Ohio State University.  At the University of Akron, Melvin served as a Resident Assistant (RA) during his sophomore year.  He was also inducted into the Political Science national honorary society.  
During his time at the University of Akron, Melvin enjoyed being a part of the student body community.  “My residents were wonderful and I enjoyed interacting with people and having a positive impact on them.  The RA position was a great help to me and I appreciated the help I received from classmates and mentors.  One particularly helpful mentor, Justin, helped me with my writing and also advised me on a regular basis.”  
Melvin is very much looking forward to returning to Columbus and attending OSU this fall. Melvin shared that “OSU is a great institution that can help me grow into the attorney I want to become one day.  I am looking forward to connecting to the same campus where I spent my time as an LLI student.”
Melvin plans to begin law school in the fall of 2018 and hopes to attend The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  

Marissa Garza, Cornerstone University

By Heather Creed on June 29, 2016 - 6:11pm
Marissa Garza says that she has been called into ministry and is determined to open a non-profit medical clinic in a developing country.  She has already taken significant steps in her journey to do so.  
Marissa will be a sophomore this fall at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she is majoring in pre-med and minoring in Bible studies.  She hopes to focus her medical practice on children -- as a pediatric emergency room doctor or surgeon -- and has already been part of medical missions to Haiti and Mexico.  
She got involved in LLI through the encouragement of her high school guidance counselor at Notre Dame Academy in Toledo.  At the time, she was interested in law, and was drawn to the leadership aspect of the program.  She reports that “LLI taught me how to be innovative -- how to develop an idea and put it into action.”  
Marissa says the skills she developed at LLI helped her last winter as she started a non-profit organization called Love Covers All to serve the homeless.  She wasn’t content to spend her six-week long winter break relaxing and hanging out with friends.  Instead, she learned to crochet scarves, solicited donations, and assembled bags of toiletries, food, gloves, scarves, hats, and handmade cards.  To date, Love Covers All has distributed over 450 bags to the homeless in Toledo and Grand Rapids.  She emphasizes that the focus of the organization is not simply to provide necessities to people in need, but “to make a connection with the homeless, to get to know people and their stories, and to break down barriers.”

She is currently working on new fundraising ideas, and towards making Love Covers All a student organization at Cornerstone.  

Marissa urges current LLI students to “not get discouraged and take all assignments seriously. Everything has a point.”  

Camille Smith, Eastern Michigan University

By Heather Creed on June 29, 2016 - 6:09pm
LLI-Columbus graduate Camille Smith will graduate a second time this spring – this time from Eastern Michigan University.  She “kept her nose in the books” and won a supplementary scholarship last spring for academic achievement during college.   
Camille’s advice to current LLI students is, “Never give up.  That’s the big thing.  And work hard.”
By ten years from now, she plans to own her own business. Immediately after graduation, she hopes to prepare for her long-range goal by using her major in marketing and her minor in communications to secure an entry level marketing position for an existing business.  “Law school is still a possibility for me,” she adds.
In LLI, Camille improved her writing skills and learned to speak comfortably in public.  She also noted, “I still use the LLI format in putting together my resume.”  She pointed as well to the value of LLI’s preparation for the SAT.  She thinks that LLI’s law focus gave her a good background for business.
During her early months of college, she benefitted from the advice and encouragement from an LLI teacher and an LLI site administrator who reached out to her on her Facebook page.  

Kabria Tyler, University of Cincinnati

By Heather Creed on June 29, 2016 - 6:08pm
Cincinnati LLI graduate Kabria Tyler had just returned from France – from two weeks at the Toulouse Business School – when we connected for the interview.  She was selected for the Toulouse program based on her performance in the international business program at the University of Cincinnati, where she is in her junior year.  Ultimately, she hopes to operate her own business.  First, though, she wants to prepare.
After graduation, Kabria may seek a master’s degree in business or a law degree, but in the meantime she is gaining experience that will be valuable in operating a business.  In addition to her studies, she is the manager of Buckle, a clothing store.  She has also joined the Black Business Fellows, mentoring first-year business students to help them adjust to college.
As both a full-time student and full-time store manager, she works hard, and one may suspect that she excels because of her diligence.  She, though, also attributes her success to the Law and Leadership Institute.  “LLI helped to build me personally and professionally,” she recalls. “We experienced a variety of situations.  I interned at the Frost Brown law firm.  We learned to act professionally among adults, to work with anyone.  We had preparation for the SAT and ACT.  A lot of students don’t have access to that.  It helped me get into college and to secure a full-ride scholarship.”
If she spoke with current LLI students, Kabria would stress the importance of the program.  She recalls that LLI “was not the fun thing to do” during the summer, though she enjoyed it ultimately.  She adds, “Take full advantage of LLI.  Pay attention.  Listen to the advice.  Take advantage of the tools it provides.  A lot of us don’t have access to the resources and knowledge that LLI provides and that can help us grow and be successful.”
It may be a few more years before we see a sign announcing “Tyler Enterprises,” but when we do and wonder how she achieved that success, we can recall that Kabria appreciated the value of seizing opportunities to learn and prepare.   


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