Moot court session, civil law education, meet and greet with judges, and a lunch & learn about careers in the legal profession were all on the docket for Adams and Reese’s second annual NALP/Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program, held in Mobile.
For the second consecutive year, the law firm continued its mentorship of and partnership with students from John L. LeFlore Magnet High School. Following a semester of classroom visits by Adams and Reese attorneys to educate students about civil law issues and the Fourth Amendment, Adams and Reese hosted a culminating event on Dec. 5.
Mobile Municipal Court Judge Shelbonnie Hall opened up the program with a welcome message and words of inspiration for the students. The day continued with students participating in a moot court session, followed by receiving certificates for their completion of the Street Law program.
The students experienced a field trip to the United States District Court, Southern District of Alabama, for a meet and greet with Magistrate Judge Sonja Bivins, in addition to various court staff members, who discussed their careers that help the federal court operate efficiently. Judge Bivins discussed her pathway to the bench, which she recalled participating in a similar program.
The day concluded with a return trip to the Adams and Reese Mobile office for a lunch & learn with attorneys and staff about all the available professions within the legal field, including being a lawyer, paralegal, secretary, and working in administration, information technology, human resources, among other careers.
“We wanted to introduce the complete spectrum of legal career pathways, so we had them interact with judges, members of the court system, and our Adams and Reese attorneys and staff, to give them a full sense of the job opportunities,” said Adams and Reese Special Counsel Suntrease Williams-Maynard, who led the firm’s Mobile Street Law program for the second consecutive year. Williams-Maynard serves on the LeFlore Law Academy Signature Advisory Board.
“The moot court session was a fun, interactive exercise where we taught them all semester about unreasonable government searches and seizures through the Fourth Amendment. Then they presented oral arguments about the subject in a real courtroom – an experience at that age that will be eye-opening on what a career as an attorney can resemble, and also beneficial to improving their public speaking skills,” said Williams-Maynard.
Adams and Reese received considerable volunteer contributions from attorneys and staff throughout the program, including from attorneys Suntrease Williams-Maynard, Jonathan Davis, Patrick Dungan, Scott Hetrick, Ben Kearns, Brian Pugh, Blake Richardson, David Sawrie, and Victoria Shoots; and staff, Nicole Bourg, Sherry Cates, Sherri Charles, Adam Harris, and Andrea Mitchell.
In addition to its second year in Mobile, Adams and Reese expanded the Street Law program to New Orleans by partnering with Jefferson RISE Charter School.
Street Law provides Adams and Reese volunteers with training and curriculum ahead of school visits, as well as technical support throughout the planning and implementation. Throughout the semester, attorneys staff classroom visits and teach civil law topics. The semester program culminates in a Legal Careers Conference hosted by Adams and Reese.
The program encourages the pursuit of legal careers by young people from groups that are currently underrepresented in the legal profession. The program also teaches the basic information, skills, and attitudes students need to thrive as active members of their society by explaining the law, the legal system, and the fundamental principles of democracy.
The National Association for Law Placement/Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline was one of two diversity pipeline programs launched by Adams and Reese in 2021. The other was the firm’s 1L Minority Fellowship Program, offering clerkship positions, normally reserved for second-year law students, to diverse first-year law students. Additionally, Adams and Reese partners with the American Bar Association to offer a Legal Opportunity Scholarship to minority law students, as well as with the Memphis Bar Association on its Summer Law Internship Program.
Adams and Reese’s mentorship programs include an AdvanceLaw Diversity Mentorship Program, AR ARROW (Advancement, Recruitment, and Retention of Women), and DAAP (Diverse Attorney Advancement and Promotion). Attorneys from groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession are invited to an annual DEI retreat. To enhance recruiting of diverse hires, Adams and Reese participates in the Southeastern Minority Job Fair, recruits from HBCUs, and engages in diverse recruiting programs throughout its footprint.
For its commitment to advancing DEI leadership efforts, Adams and Reese has achieved Mansfield Rule 5.0 Certification, taking part in a universal commitment among law firms nationwide to enact actionable steps to foster DEI at all levels of the legal profession, increasing leadership advancement and client representation opportunities afforded to minority attorneys.