Diversity Outreach Program Brings Local High School Students to Widener Law
Web Editor - Published: March 3, 2009
DiversityAdmissionsPromo235pxOn Friday, February 20, Widener Law’s Delaware campus played host to minority students from six area high schools. Students from the Charter School of Wilmington, Chester High, Penncrest High School, Dickinson High School, and Mastery Charter School attended the program and learned about the opportunities, the challenges, and the value of a legal education.

The Law School Experience

After a short welcome and the opportunity to try their hand at a couple of difficult LSAT questions, the students were treated to a short mock Torts class taught by Associate Professor Kathleen Turezyn. The lively class featured a look at the case of Breunig v. American Family Ins. Co. and the reasonable person standard. She described how and why the standard was created, noting that it allows the court to measure a person’s action by asking, “What would the reasonable person do under the circumstances?” The case in question dealt with a woman responsible for an automobile accident claiming that she should not be held responsible for the incident because of an unforeseeable moment of insanity. The court rejected that defense, claiming that her behavior was foreseeable because she had previously claimed to talk to God.

  

Next, Legal Writing Professor and Director of Bar Programs Micah Yarbrough spoke about legal writing and the bar exam. Emphasizing the importance of writing skills, he noted that “Most of what lawyers do, especially right out of law school, is write.” He also discussed the importance of “Learning how to think like a lawyer does, and how to communicate that analysis.” He also related his personal experiences about taking the bar exam and took a number of very astute questions from the students on how admission to practice worked and whether or not it could be transferred from state to state.

Transitioning to the Professional World

Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Serena Williams addressed the students next, providing a look at the variety of professions that a law degree can help with. She mentioned that 26 of the country’s 44 Presidents have been lawyers, and asked the students why having a legal education might help someone be President, prompting the students to answer that lawyers possess critical thinking skills, communication skills, research skills, and a fundamental understanding of the law. She also emphasized that earning a J.D. can help a person achieve success in other fields as well, pointing out individuals who had law degrees but used them in their professions as a journalist, record producer, high school teacher, and prison chaplain. “There are so many different things that you can do with a law degree,” she pointed out.

The next presentation featured Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Programs Nathaniel Nichols discussing the hands-on experience offered by Widener Law’s clinical programs. “What you do in law school is learn fundamental skills. What you do in a clinic or externship is develop those skills,” asserted Professor Nichols. He discussed the different kinds of cases that the different clinics might work on, noting for instance that the Veteran’s Law Clinic might assist a vet suffering from post traumatic stress disorder in receiving his VA benefits, or the Delaware Civil Law Clinic might help a victim of domestic abuse.

The Law School Experience

As the event neared its conclusion, the students ate a lunch of pizza and subs while three current Widener Law students spoke about their own experiences in seeking admission to law school and pursuing a legal education. The panelists were 3rd year student Simone Persaud, 2nd year student Kateri Conahey, and Nathalie C. Hackett, a 2nd year student in the extended division. The three young woman answered questions from the high school students about why they chose Widener Law, why they wanted to come to law school, and what they intended to do with after graduating.

Admissions Counselor Ana del Puerto organized and arranged the day’s successful event. The Law School Admissions Council sponsored the event as part of DiscoverLaw.org Month. Hopefully some of the bright high school students who attended the event enjoyed what they saw and heard enough to return to Widener as students in the future.