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!