English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP (ELPO Law) created a program in the fall of the 2017/18 school year to help mentor students who would like to enter the field of law, with a particular focus on underrepresented and diverse populations. The goal of the program is to help diversify the field of law by ensuring that students of many different backgrounds consider law as a career option.
The program works to bring a variety of legal professions into high school classrooms, making representatives from the legal field available to discuss what educational paths students should pursue if they choose a career in law. The program has increased its scope since its creation to also provide opportunities for insight into careers in law enforcement as well as those available through the 911 Dispatch Office, Warren County Regional Jail, the Warren County Courthouse, local police departments, etc.
This semester, students at WEHS and BGHS will be able to participate in the program which kicked off today at WEHS with a presentation by ELPO Law Attorney Joye Beth Spinks and ELPO Law Legal Assistant Cassie Joiner. The first presentation introduced the program and included an interview with Joye Beth Spinks about her journey to becoming an attorney, what being an attorney entails on a daily basis, what motivated her to pursue a career in law, and why diversity is important in the field of law. Joye Beth then interviewed University of Kentucky College of Law Dean Mary Davis virtually for her perspective on the same issues. Later in the fall semester, a recorded presentation with additional content will be made available to the students to keep them engaged. BGHS will kick off their program with the same activities on October 13th.
In the spring, the program hopes to include a field trip to the courthouse to witness a courtroom session in progress, a tour of the jail and police department, a panel discussion with a variety of legal professionals, and a roundtable discussion opportunity for older students participating in the program.
While all students with an interest in the field of law are invited to participate in the program, there is a particular emphasis on those with diverse backgrounds.
“If we’re going to diversify the field of law, we’re going to need to do so in all aspects, from law enforcement to law firms,” says Bob Young, managing partner of ELPO. “People who are from different racial and ethnic backgrounds or who are considered diverse in other ways enrich the profession, challenge our thinking and help us better represent all people. We truly believe that many people would consider the field of law or law enforcement if they know there will be opportunities available to them, and that’s the message we’re bringing.”
“One of our top priorities as a school district is ensuring equitable opportunities for all of our students,” stated WCPS Superintendent Rob Clayton. “Our partnership with ELPO through the Legal Diversity Pipeline not only demonstrates our commitment toward equity but it provides our students with direct access to current professionals in the field of law. We are optimistic that this partnership will provide underrepresented students with the confidence and skills necessary to effectively pursue a career in the legal industry.”
“Our students and school districts benefit when community members and local businesses work with schools to provide opportunities,” says Gary Fields, Superintendent of the Bowling Green Independent School District. “This partnership is a ‘win-win’ connecting students interested in a career in law or law enforcement to current local professionals.”