Jurist Academy programs visit area law firms
Public Relations - Published: June 11, 2012


The Widener Law Jurist Academy programs paid visits to the largest law firms in their respective cities recently, as the summer immersion program provided undergraduate students an up-close look at firm life.

The seven-student Harrisburg campus contingent dropped in on Rhoads & Sinon LLP where 2001 alumnus Vincent Champion, a partner at the firm, talked with them about how the firm operates, the summer associate program and the rigors of law school. It’s just good business to have many points of view on staff when tackling client problems, he said.

“That’s why diversity is so important,” he said.

The Jurist Academy is a diversity pipeline program designed for students who come from backgrounds that are typically underrepresented in the legal profession. The two-week experience includes LSAT prep classes, mini law school courses and practice exams. The firm field trips also provide a glimpse into the life of a private-sector lawyer. Students had tours of the offices and were able to talk with attorneys – in many instances Widener Law alumni – about everything from the bar exam, their professional schedules and how to build a solid reputation in the attorney world.

The 25 Delaware Jurist Academy students who visited Richards Layton & Finger in Wilmington were encouraged to work hard in school to be competitive in the legal job market. Once you get that job, however, you can check your resume at the door, director Mark Gentile told them.

“The only thing that matters is how you perform,” Gentile said. “If you’re looking for a place where you’ll be judged on your merits and not anything else, law is one of those places.”

The students also watched a demonstration on the use of technology in legal proceedings, given by former Richards Layton & Finger attorney, and now Delaware Superior Court Judge John A. Parkins Jr. He showed them a video simulation of a car chase developed for a jury trial he handled when he practiced law.

The students were pleased by the access the field trips provided.

“It was fabulous. It was so informative,” Harrisburg Jurist Academy student Kimmberli Stowe of Philadelphia said. “I really got a lot out of it.”

Widener Law is grateful to Joni L. Peet of Richards Layton & Finger and Annie Etter of Rhoads & Sinon for their assistance in making the firm visits possible.

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