STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND ALUMNI EXPAND THEIR OUTREACH TO AREA SCHOOLS
Berkeley Law helps young local students in myriad ways. Here are three inspiring examples:
CENTER FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT THROUGH LAW
About 35 local high school students from disadvantaged circumstances are chosen for this annual summer program. Four days a week, they work as paid interns for law offices, nonprofits, government departments, and elected officials. On Thursdays, they attend classes at Berkeley Law that integrate a legal curriculum with life skills and leadership development activities.
“They make the lesson plans so interesting and encourage us to actively join in the discussions,” says El Cerrito High School senior Cali Luke. “When you see a teacher working hard to engage you, that’s motivating.”
Program Executive Director Nancy Schiff seeks to forge a mentorship community that will support the students into college and beyond. “We aim to instill a belief that they can be successful in college, law school, and a professional workplace regardless of their background.”
Since 1999, more than 92 percent of participants have enrolled in higher education. “This opportunity builds skills and confidence on many levels,” Luke says. “I’m so grateful for it.”
AN ELEMENTARY APPROACH
In 2013, Clinical Professor Ty Alper helped launch a fifth-grade mock trial program at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Berkeley. For 15 weeks, participants practice each Thursday before school, learning public-speaking basics before developing trial skills.
The program culminates with two mock trials at Berkeley Law, overseen last year by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Brand ’69 and retired Judge Demetrios Agretelis ’64.
Brand praised the students for deftly avoiding argumentative points in their opening statements and leading questions in their direct examinations. “This was truly marvelous,” he told them.
Alper helped coach the fifth-graders with James Stevens ’12 and Joy Haviland ’08, among others. “This program normalizes the concept of being a lawyer for kids who hadn’t envisioned themselves in that role,” Alper says. “That’s empowering.”
PROVIDING INSIGHT AND HOPE
In October, a group of Berkeley Law students shared legal knowledge and personal insights with 33 students from Oakland Fremont High School’s Mandela Law & Public Service Academy.
After meeting with the students over lunch, Alexus Payton ’17, Travis Mitchell ’19, and Cheyenne Overall ’19 taught a Fourth Amendment “Know your Rights” session while Jessica Hollis ’18, Alice Chi ’18, David Giron ’19, and Drew Washington ’19 led a discussion on immigration law.
“For kids who are the first in their families to finish high school or pursue higher education, it’s important to provide information, guidance, and confidence that will help them take the next step,” Hollis says.
Academy Director Patricia Arabia saw how talking with law students from similar backgrounds gave her students “a huge lift … and a sense that college could be in their future.”