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Meet LLI Alumna Brittany Jones

By Heather Creed on September 22, 2014 - 11:29am

Brittany Nicole Jones is the youngest of nine children and is from Dayton, Ohio. She started in the LLI program in the summer of 2009 as a high school sophomore. In addition to participating in the LLI program, she was on Dayton Dunbar’s football and track and field teams, was a member of the Dayton NAACP, and competed in ACT-SO where she won local gold medals in oratory and entrepreneurship and went on to compete nationally in Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Houston. She also worked as a waitress and volunteered at her local Boys and Girls Club as an after- school homework tutor.  

After graduating from the University of Dayton LLI Program and from the Dayton Early College Academy in 2012, she went to Cedarville University on a scholarship. Ms. Jones is currently a junior majoring in sociology with a minor in political science. While at Cedarville, she has been a part of OneVoice Gospel Choir, a member of the university’s Legal Society, and a member of VISION, a group of minority college students who work with the school’s admissions office to target more students of color to be a part of the Cedarville family. In addition, she serves as the Student Liaison to Diversity Student Programming, where she works alongside the Director of Intercultural Leadership to create initiatives that both attract minority students to Cedarville and also increase the retention rate by designing programs that reflect the many cultures on campus. 

Q: When did you join LLI? 
A: I joined LLI in 2009.

Q: What was your favorite LLI experience?
A: My favorite experience in LLI, in addition to the mock trials and oral presentations, was meeting with the local lawyers and judges in our area. Meeting these lawyers expanded my view of the law and showed me that there are a variety of careers I can pursue in the legal profession, ranging from sports and entertainment to union representatives.  
Q: What advice would you give to students thinking about applying to LLI?
A: If you are thinking about applying, be like NIKE and "just DO IT!"  This experience isn't just for those who are interested in law.  That is why the leadership aspect is attached to the name of the organization. There are some students in the program who do not want to be lawyers, but go on to be great leaders in their homes, schools, and eventually in their communities. Also when you are exposed to people in the community, they may have connections that will land you internships that you are interested in. Lastly, let's not forget that you will get paid for this experience. 
Q: Are you enjoying your internship with the 2nd District Court of Appeals as part of the Summer Work Experience in Law (SWEL) program? 
A: I must admit being an intern at a court and only being a junior in college is intimidating, but I have enjoyed my experience. The judges, staff attorneys, court administrators, etc. are warm and loving people who are willing to lend a hand when I have questions. Having this internship also helped me to decide whether or not I want to pursue this kind of profession. 
Q: What kinds of assignments are you given as an intern with the 2nd District Court of Appeals?
A: One of the major assignments I have been given is to brief cases for oral arguments. I read both briefs from the Appellant and Appellee and then I draft a Case Summary by using the IRAC or CREAC formula. I often watch the oral arguments of those cases I have briefed and a few times I had the opportunity to sit in chambers as the judges deliberate. 
On other days, I sit in on trials in Common Pleas and Municipal Courts. I have met a lot of lawyers and judges who are open to answering questions, whether they are general or about specific things I have seen in court. Also, by watching these cases, I mentally evaluate the proceedings to see if the case is appealable. 
Q: Did court personnel and members of the legal profession show you the “inner workings” of the judicial system?
A: I believe that the legal professionals treated me really well. For example, Judge McGee allowed me the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look when it came to cases. I was able to witness the voir dire process and the proceedings before a case begins and the instructions that jurors receive before deliberation. In municipal court, Judge Dierdre Logan allowed me to be a bailiff for her court.

Q: In what ways have you changed as a result of this internship experience?
A: This internship has made me more aware of the many things I could do with a law degree. It was also great to see the many University of Dayton School of Law alumni in their field and sharing their experience and wisdom with me.

Q: Did you feel that your Law & Leadership Institute experience made you more comfortable to take on the SWEL internship?
A: I believe I had the potential to be successful in whatever I put my mind to. With LLI, it allowed me to properly mold and shape my potential productively.

Q: What are your plans when you graduate in 2016? Do you plan to pursue a career in law?
A: When I graduate from Cedarville in 2016, my plan is to go to law school, but I'm not sure if I want to go straight from undergrad or if I want to take a year off. After I graduate from law school, I want to become a defense attorney (whether it is state or federal) and practice for a while. After that, I may want to become a judge. 

Getting to know LLI Student Gabriel Jackson

By Heather Creed on September 22, 2014 - 11:21am

Gabriel Jackson was born in New Orleans and currently lives with his family in Columbus, Ohio. Gabriel is currently in his senior year of high school. Gabriel joined the Law and Leadership Institute the summer before his 9th grade year in high school.  Gabriel maintains a 3.6 grade-point average.  He is also on the wrestling team and is in Scholarly Teens Interested in Programs and Science (STEPS) and Manifest Your Destiny. Gabriel has visited over 15 universities and wants to major in political science and minor in international affairs. 

Q: How did you originally hear about LLI?
A: I originally heard about the Law and Leadership Institute program from my 8th grade History teacher Mr. Wrighter. He was a LLI instructor for 9th graders. Since I was an outspoken student with insightful opinions, he believed the program would be perfect for me. Four years have passed, and after looking back, joining the program has been one of my best life choices yet. I now possess newfound confidence in my future. 

Q: What was your favorite LLI experience during the 9th grade? 
A: My favorite experience of 9th grade year has to be my first mock trial. Our mock trial was an event to see.  We had intense battles between attorneys and witnesses with thought-provoking opening and closing statements. Our case dealt with a student wearing a pro-marijuana t-shirt to school in support of his sick grandmother. In the case, we wanted to know if the student had the right to do so. I was a witness who was one of the defendant’s friends. I had to get into character. Even though the attorneys tried to twist my words into something negative, I kept my composure on the stand and added to a victory for the defense. I ended up receiving the Best Witness Award.  

Q: What was your favorite LLI experience during the 10th grade?
A: My favorite experience was my summer internship. At the age of 15, I was given the opportunity to intern at a law firm. This is an opportunity that most law students dream of accomplishing. My law firm in particular was Frost Brown Todd. At my law firm, I got a better understanding of how attorneys actually work. I met many great lawyers along the way and my favorite hands down was Guy Moreno. Guy basically kept watch of me and my fellow intern during our internship. He may not know, but that experience has strengthened my desire to become an attorney.

Q: Did you enjoy your 11th grade summer with LLI?
A: My 11th grade summer with LLI was life-changing. During this time, I realized that next year I would be a senior applying to college. Many things came to mind such as: Are my grades in good standing? Is college made for me? How will I pay for my college education? LLI helped me get a grip on my life and I started preparing for my future. First, we received test prep for the ACT and SAT. These tests are a key factor in college admissions applications. Second, we started going to college visits/tours. During this time I got to see different schools, and I developed a better understanding of where I wanted to be. Spending several years in college seems like a great opportunity. I am pretty sure everything will work out for the better.   

Q: What colleges do you plan to apply to for the fall of 2015?
A: When it comes to applying for college, I am making sure that I pursue multiple opportunities. I want to find a college that is perfect for me and one that will strengthen my character and enrich my life. I plan on applying to several colleges and I am keeping my options open. In particular, I am applying to The Ohio State University, Howard University, Otterbein University, Miami University (Oxford), Ohio University, Denison University, University of Pennsylvania, Berea College and Morehouse College. I am interested in public, private, and HBCU educations; they may be different in specific ways but I am still eager to discover which one is best for me. 

Q: What advice would you give to students considering applying to LLI?
A: Take life by the wheels and don’t be afraid to take risks or fail. It’s all a part of building your character and life. This is a wonderful program and I truly believe any student could benefit from it. For example, law is part of our daily lives, and shouldn’t we all want to know your rights? LLI provides this knowledge and hopefully, your rights will never be infringed upon by knowing this information. One may ask what if I don’t want to be an attorney? I would respond by saying, try looking into it before casting it away. Law may become a personal love and even if it doesn’t, this program teaches life skills such as networking and professionalism. By looking at LLI holistically, you have few things to lose but a lot of things to gain. 

LLI graduate named Gates Foundation Millennium Scholar

By LLI Webmaster on August 5, 2014 - 4:07pm

After opening the letter from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and learning that he had been selected as a Millennium Scholar, Bryan Quijada immediately sent an email to Dean Kathy Northern, the LLI administrator at Mortiz College of Law, writing “This changes everything.”  A graduate of Beechcroft High School in Columbus, Bryan was selected from among 50,000 applicants and, as a Gates Scholar, will have all of his financial needs met for his four-year undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University and perhaps through graduate school as well.  Bryan attributed this tremendous accomplishment, in part, to his four-year participation in LLI and the support and assistance he received from Dean Northern.

While Bryan held outside employment during high school, he scheduled his job for the early morning hours so that he could change clothes, ride two busses, and arrive at Moritz College of Law by 9:00 a.m. in order to take LLI Summer Classes.  He studied whenever he could.  On the bus rides to visit colleges, Bryan drilled on vocabulary words to improve his ACT scores.  Cybele Smith, one of the LLI instructors at Moritz College of Law, explained, “the young man personifies hard work, humility and sheer tenacity with a big heart.” 

During his tenure in LLI, Bryan interned at the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLC during the summer between his ninth and tenth grades.  Vorys attorneys and paralegals gave Bryan feedback as he worked through mock trial problems.  One attorney noted that Bryan was quiet and shy, but approached his work with special thoughtfulness.

Through the Young Scholars and the Seniors-to-Sophomores programs, Bryan took OSU classes and recently completed his first year of college classes simultaneously with his senior year of high school.  In addition to serving as class valedictorian, Bryan also participated in mock trial, STEM Club, and the Kenyon College Writer’s Program and received varsity letters in soccer, track, and swimming. 

Bryan plans to study aeronautical engineering at The Ohio State University this fall. 

New Video: LLI from a student's perspective

By Sarah Miller on August 5, 2014 - 2:12pm

Law and Leadership Institute Columbus student Athena Williams is featured in a recently produced video by Court News Ohio and The Supreme Court of Ohio.  Williams just completed her second year of LLI’s Summer Institute at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law and will be a sophomore at Licking Heights High School this upcoming 2014 fall school year.  Williams shares her perspective on LLI and what it has done for her. 

Visit the Ohio Channel News website for a full transcript!

Akron Legal News: Area High School Students Honored by Law & Leadership Institute

By LLI Webmaster on July 31, 2014 - 3:37pm

Published: July 31, 2014––Twenty local high school students were honored at the Akron Bar Association recently for graduating from the Law and Leadership Institute, a statewide initiative that collaborates with the legal community to prepare high school students from under-served communities for post-secondary and professional success.

The program is a comprehensive, four year academic course in law, leadership, analytical thinking, problem solving, writing skills and professionalism.

In addition to year-round classes on legal and leadership topics, students engage in mock trials, internships at local law firms, ACT preparation class and college tours.

The University of Akron School of Law is the local site for the Institute with support from the Akron Bar Foundation. This is the sixth year Akron has been one of the Law and Leadership sites in Ohio.

The majority of Law and Leadership students from across the state are minorities and many of the students are from low income households, according.

Joann Sahl, director of the program, said the Institute has had remarkable success in graduates attending college – the majority the first of their families to be enrolled in four-year programs.

“The program is as much about getting them ready for college as it is introducing them to law as a career,” said Sahl. “Most of our students are first generation. We are giving them access to all college has to offer, and exposing them to the idea that they can succeed in college.”

“The Law and Leadership Institute was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” said Law and Leadership graduate Imokhai Okolo. “I was introduced to one of my biggest passion––mock trial, and with the help of Law and Leadership, I was able to get into my top choice college––Miami University.”

Also honored were 10th grade students completing a one-week internship at local law firms.

Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs LLC has been an internships site since the program began.

“The Law & Leadership Program provides us with the unique opportunity to inspire and encourage high school students from under-served communities,” said Bill Caplan, Buckingham managing partner, the local law firm that recently hosted two student interns.

“We strongly support the goals of the program, and we have over the years generously given of our time in support of the program,” said Caplan. “The program also allows us to explain to the students why we are proud of our profession, proud of our community, and most proud of Buckingham and its accomplishments over the past century.”

Read the article online

LLI Cincinnati Summer Institute Students Collect over 1,200 Books!

By LLI Webmaster on July 17, 2014 - 4:28pm

     LLI Cincinnati students collected over 1,200 books and donated them to Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, and Crayons to Computers in their “Pages 4 Patients” community service project. “Pages 4 Patients” is a community service project developed by LLI students to provide reading materials to children in hospitals who are away from home and school.  The book drive took place the first three weeks of the LLI Summer Institute when 9th-12th graders were present. The initial plan was to focus on providing books to Children’s Hospital, but so many books where collected that additional hospitals and non-profits were included. The responsibility of collecting, distributing and sorting the books was placed solely on the students and incentives were provided for bringing in the most books.

“Pages 4 Patients” was a huge success! The 10 LLI students that collected the most books enjoyed a trip to Orange Leaf as a reward for their efforts and the entire student body felt the personal reward of providing families in their own communities with more opportunities to read, even while recovering in a hospital bed.

Way to go LLI Cincinnati students!

University of Akron Newsroom: Future legal eagles start early at UA

By LLI Webmaster on July 14, 2014 - 2:09pm
  • Kerry Holmes, a senior at Firestone High School, listens to his peers discussing the program.
  • Jaden Hescht, a sophomore at Barberton High School, discusses last year’s mock trial.
  • Tabitha Meers, a freshman at Akron Early College High School, talks about her experience in the LLI program.
  • Ariana Davis, a sophomore at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, talks about the program.

7/9/14 -- Kerry Holmes has yet to graduate from high school, but he’s already completed an internship in a law office, putting him one step closer to his goal of becoming a lawyer.

The Firestone High School senior is one of 60 local high school students currently being hosted on campus by The University of Akron School of Law for the Law and Leadership Institute’s (LLI) summer academic program.

“Two years ago I interned at Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs,” recalls Holmes. “I got to meet all the people, talk to the paralegals, and even debate with attorneys on Obama’s health care act.”

Increasing diversity in legal field

The LLI is a statewide initiative in collaboration with the legal community that prepares students from underserved communities for college and professional success through a four-year academic program in law, leadership, analytical thinking, writing and professionalism.

The goal of the program is to increase diversity in law school and in the legal profession.

“In order to effectively represent all the people, the legal profession must strive to be as diverse as the people we represent,” says attorney Edward Gilbert, former president of the Akron/Canton Barristers Association, a group of predominately African-American judges and attorneys. “To achieve this goal we start with the young. The Law and Leadership program strives to produce leaders; leaders become lawyers.”

This is the sixth year in which UA has been one of the six sites hosting the LLI program (including sites in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo). The LLI, the Ohio and Akron Bar Foundations, and the United Way provide the funding.

Program all-encompassing

The students at UA’s camp — most of them from Akron Public Schools, Barberton High School and Coventry High School — move through the four-year program in cohorts, taking classes led by UA law students, hearing guest speakers, going on field trips and working as legal interns.

Students entering the ninth grade spend five weeks learning about the court system, criminal procedure, constitutional rights and the appeals process. Guest speakers include local attorneys, judges, entrepreneurs and professors. On July 24, the freshmen will participate in a mock trial at the Akron Municipal Court.

“You actually felt like you were a lawyer,” says Jaden Hescht, a sophomore at Barberton High School, recalling last year’s mock trial. 

The students, who are instructed in professional etiquette, say they are held to high expectations and given great respect.

“The teachers treat you like a professional,” says Tabitha Meers, a freshman at Akron Early College High School on UA’s campus. “You have a voice that matters. Your opinions are challenged more often, and you have to know both sides of a case.”

During their four-week session, sophomores learn about civil law, with topics ranging from civil rights to freedom of speech and consumer law. They spend their final week interning at a local law firm, corporate legal department or public sector law office.

Holmes and other upperclassmen are spending their three-week session focused on college preparation. They are polishing resumes, visiting colleges and universities, and meeting with counselors and advisers. On July 11, they will participate in a mock trial at UA’s School of Law at 9:30 a.m.

Access = success

“The program is as much about getting them ready for college as it is introducing them to law as a career,” says Joann Sahl, director of the program at UA. “Most of our students are first generation. We are giving them access to all college has to offer, and exposing them to the idea that they can succeed in college.”

Students continue in the LLI program throughout the academic year, meeting on several Saturdays throughout the fall and spring semesters to build upon the skills gained during the summer.

“You learn important skills no matter what field you’re going into,” notesAriana Davis, a sophomore at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. “I don’t want to be a lawyer, but we all use law skills, like public speaking and enunciation, reading and writing. These are skills that make you a better citizen overall.” 

 Story by Nicholas Nussan -- 7-9-14

Read the article online

LLI Case Western Summer Institute Students Conducting Food Bank Drive

By Sarah Miller on June 26, 2014 - 4:55pm

The Law and Leadership 2014 Institute Summer Program is off to a great start at Case Western Reserve University School of Law! Tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders have undertaken a community service project in conjunction with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.  Each grade has been divided into the following subgroups:

  • Media - 12th graders
  • Flyers - 11th graders
  • Posters - 10th graders

Each group is responsible for an aspect of the marketing and donation campaign. The students have set a goal to raise 100 donations in two weeks!  The food drive will end on July 9 and all of the donations will be delivered to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank on Thursday, July 10. Students will promote the campaign at the law school and campus wide at Case and CSU.

The twelfth grade students have drafted a press release with further details about the project and ways to get involved:

One in six people are food insecure; they do not know where their next meal will come from.  The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is the largest hunger relief organization in Northeast Ohio.  They distribute 90,000 pounds of food a day.  One-third of the recipients are children.  They cannot do it alone.  We ask you to reach out a hand and help them feed millions just by donating a single can or food item.  “Hunger strikes at the core of a person’s dignity.” 

Items eligible for donation:

  • Canned meats
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Soups
  • Cereal
  • Vegetables, Fruits (canned)
  • Beans (dried or canned)
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Boxed Meals
  • Pasta and Pasta Sauce
  • Rice
  • Fruit Juice
  • Sugar and Flour
  • Coffee and Tea

Please drop all donations off on the ground floor of Gund Hall on the Case Western Reserve University Campus at 11075 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7148.

Way to go LLI Case Western students, keep up the great work!

LLI Recognizes OSBA Executive Bill Weisenberg

By LLI Webmaster on June 25, 2014 - 4:20pm

Tomorrow’s Youth Benefit from Today’s Trailblazer:  Law and Leadership Institute Recognizes Extraordinary Efforts of OSBA Executive Bill Weisenberg

Columbus (June 17, 2014)—Some people think about making a difference. Some talk about it. It is the rare person who turns those thoughts and words into action. William K. Weisenberg, a 35-year veteran staff member of the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA), is one of those rare people. He was instrumental in starting Ohio’s Law & Leadership Institute (LLI), a statewide initiative to prepare students from underserved communities for success through a comprehensive four-year academic program in law, leadership, analytical thinking, problem-solving, writing skills and professionalism.  

            On June 15, the LLI Board of Trustees unanimously voted to name OSBA Assistant Director Bill Weisenberg as an emeritus member of the board. Emeritus status is reserved for trustees who complete two full three-year terms and merit the distinction based on their extraordinary support of LLI and its mission.

            Weisenberg was selected for emeritus status to recognize his collaborative work with the Supreme Court of Ohio, Ohio’s nine law schools and its legal community to create LLI, and his dedication to the expansion of program opportunities for LLI students throughout the state.

            Steve Jemison, LLI president and CEO, said of Weisenberg, “Bill is a visionary. Not only was he a driving force in creating LLI in 2008, but he continues to dedicate his time and talents to publicly support the organization and its fundraising activities.” He added, “Bill’s dedication to LLI will benefit our students for many, many years to come.”

            Weisenberg noted, “Our youth represent our future. While many of Ohio’s young people have ample opportunity for academic and professional success, many still do not. LLI can open doors to that kind of success, and I am pleased to be a small part of that effort.”


Court News Ohio: Training Held for LLI Law Students Participating in State Program

By LLI Webmaster on June 4, 2014 - 6:16pm

By Jenna Gant | Court News Ohio -- June 3, 2014 -- The Law and Leadership Institute (LLI) is hosting a 2014 Leadership Training and Reception for nearly 70 law students and law school administrators from across Ohio who will serve as instructors during this year’s LLI Summer Institute. More than 425 high school students are expected to participate in the 2014 institute

LLI collaborates with the state’s legal community to prepare students from underserved communities for college and professional success. The four-year academic program provides classes about law, leadership, analytical thinking, problem solving, writing skills, and professionalism.

The training and reception will be held on June 12-13 at The Ohio State University 4H Center. The lawyers and administrators will participate in workshops focused on LLI’s curriculum used to introduce high school students to the law and legal system.

“The Leadership Conference is an important opportunity for all LLI sites statewide to come together rand refocus on our mission for the coming year,” Heather Creed, LLI chief operations officer, said. “Our students are at the heart of everything we do, and the better prepared our staff is, the more effectively they can serve the students.”

LLI will honor several law offices and LLI supporters during the June 12 reception where Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor will be accepting the Exemplary Legal Supporter award on behalf of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Read the story on Court News Ohio's website


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