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Lawyers Journal

Students get glimpse of more than a shadow of the legal profession

Photo by Krista Zanin
Patrick T. Clendenen of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo, PC, Boston talks with the students before they leave for the day to tour courthouses, visit law firms and see the State House as part of the MBA's Job Shadow Day.
Photo by Krista Zanin
Kayla Cardoso of Boston and Michael R. Costa of Greenberg Traurig, LLP of Boston.
Photo by Krista Zanin
Laura A. Kessler of the Insurance Fraud Bureau, Boston with Robinson Tejeda of Boston (left) and Joaquim Alves of Boston.
Photo by Krista Zanin
Isiah Baptista of Boston and Virgen M. Palermo of Law Office of Virgen M. Palermo in Dorchester.
It's not everyday that a teen-ager gets to meet the state boxing commissioner, a medical examiner, a state police lieutenant, his state senator and an official with the state's office dealing with homeland security.

But for Melvin Goncalves, Feb. 2 turned out just that way.

Goncalves, a member of the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester, got an up-close look at the legal profession by participating in the MBA's annual Job Shadow Day. He was paired with Susan M. Prosnitz, general counsel of the state Executive Office of Public Safety in Boston.

When the day began, Prosnitz asked Goncalves what his interests were. When he said karate, crime scene investigations, engineering and more, Prosnitz introduced Goncalves to a variety of people who work in her office that matched those interests, from the state boxing commissioner to a medical examiner. And beyond meeting a number of people, Prosnitz gave Goncalves a tour of the State House, where he met his state senator.

"The reason I volunteer primarily is to give back," Prosnitz said. "It's important that kids who want to have the opportunity have exposure to the profession. It's an opportunity they see not just what is on television as things a lawyer might do … My student was excellent. He's bright, very polite and he was very interesting and interested in what we do."

Goncalves was one of 29 students who took part in the program. Ten attorneys from Boston took students from the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester under their wings. Fifteen attorneys from the law firm of Mirick O'Connell in Worcester were paired with teens from the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester. And three attorneys and a judge from Springfield showed the ropes to students from the Springfield Boys and Girls Club.

Students watched criminal trials, went into judges' chambers, mingled with attorneys at law firms and toured the State House. For them, it was an opportunity to see whether they might like to work as a lawyer or in some other capacity in the legal field as well as gain an understanding on how the legal system works.

"I wanted to see what it is like," said Alyssa Oliveira of Boston who was paired with attorney George F. Gormley.

Gormley took her and Anton Polanco of Boston to a variety of places, including the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse where they met the Hon. Morris E. Lasker.

"That was great," Oliveira said of meeting the federal judge.

Another attorney volunteer, Michael R. Costa of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, in Boston, wanted to show the student shadowing him, Kayla Cardoso of Boston, how someone goes from being a student to a lawyer. They sat in some of the classrooms at Suffolk University Law School before heading to the courthouse and later to his office, where he introduced her to a number of other attorneys working in a variety of practice areas.

"When I was in school, there were never any real ways to see what professions are out there," Costa said. "This was a good opportunity to show the kids that with hard work anything is possible."

In addition to Prosnitz, Gormley and Costa, other attorneys participating from Boston included David S. Bradley, Hollis E. Crowley and Kathryn E. McIntyre, all of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, Boston; Patrick T. Clendenen of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo, PC, Boston; Laura A. Kessler of the Insurance Fraud Bureau, Boston; Steven Michael Key of Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy, Boston; and Virgen M. Palermo of Law Office of Virgen M. Palermo, Boston.

The law firm of Mirick O'Connell stepped in to provide students in Worcester an opportunity to see the legal profession. Attorneys from the firm who participated included Past MBA President Richard C. Van Nostrand, Michael D. Badger, Patricia L. Davidson, Kimberly A. Rozak, Kristin D. Thompson, Michele P. Rosano, John T. McInnes, Christopher T. Meier, Elaine Apostola, Simone Sawicki, Paul McKenzie, Amy Tuiskula, James McCaffrey, Beverly Fortin and Ralph St. George. Also, the Hon. F. Dennis Saylor, Clerk Martin Castles, Clerk Deborah Shattuck and Deputy U.S. Marshall Tom Bezanson, all from the Federal District Court in Worcester, volunteered their time to speak with the students.

From Springfield, students shadowed three attorneys and a judge, including Eileen M. Sears of the Hampden County District Attorney's Office, Springfield; Katherine K. Coolidge of Bulkley Richardson & Gelinas LLP, Springfield; the Hon. David G. Sacks of Hampden Probate & Family Court, Springfield; and William P. Hadley of Doherty Wallace Pillsbury & Murphy, Springfield.

This is the sixth year the MBA has cosponsored the Job Shadow Day Program along with the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester and the Springfield and Worcester Boys and Girls Clubs. If you are interested in participating in next year's Job Shadow Program, please call (617) 338-0695 or e-mail [e-mail communityservices].

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association