Students get firsthand look at the law through Job Shadow program

Issue March 2004 By Carla Del Bove

Photo by Pat Plasse
Participating in this year's Springfield Job Shadow Program include (from left, back row) attorney Christine LeBel and students Nicole Moya, Natasha Moya, Lateisha McBrier attorney Katherine K. Coolidge and Mike Hanechick; and (from left, front row) students Jessica McAloon and Jovany Villanavie.
A group of students from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, Springfield and Worcester got a lesson in law for the day as they took a detour from school to various courthouses and law offices for the MBA's Job Shadow Day.

The program, which was led by Patrick T. Clendenen of Minz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo P.C. of Boston, Christine LeBel from Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas of Springfield and Renee E. Hackett of Bowditch & Dewey LLC, had a total of 22 additional volunteer attorneys and 24 students participating in the program on Feb. 2. The students were able to talk about their experiences during meetings held later in the day at MBA offices in Boston and Springfield and at the Worcester law firm of Bowditch & Dewey LLP.

"I thought the program went extremely well," said attorney Steve Pepe of Community Service Network, Inc. "I took my student to see actual courtrooms and it was pretty interactive. He asked questions and met with a judge from probate court and met a bailiff too."

The attorneys emphasized the importance of taking the students with them to different sites in order for them to gain a true understanding of what a lawyer goes through on a day-to-day basis.

Students from Boston, Springfield and Worcester spent time at the various county courthouses. Three students from Springfield visited the Hampden District and Superior Court while one student was given the opportunity to shadow a judge from the Hampden Probate and Family Court. The Worcester group went on a tour of the Worcester Courthouse where they observed arraignments, hearings and a trial.

Judge David G. Sacks, the first judge ever to participate in the Job Shadow Day Program, said at first he was unsure if his student shadow, Nicole Moya, was going to be receptive to his suggestion that she accompany him on the bench for the day to view first-hand how the courtroom process works.

"I knew it was going to be a good day when she said she wanted to sit on the bench with me," he said. "I found it to be very rewarding because the program gave her an opportunity to get some sense of how (we interact in the courtroom)."

The students were eager to share their experiences about the Job Shadow Program as they reconvened with the attorneys in the afternoon at the same sites to recap the day's events during an open forum discussion.

"It was cool to see the Joe Moakley Courthouse," said Douglas Johnson, a student from South Boston. "It was in an industrial part of the city and there were barricades around it. I would never have thought it would be there."

"We saw a verdict and sentencing at the superior court," said Danecia Robinson, a student from East Boston High. "We even saw a man getting evicted from his home."

Clendenen, who led Boston Boys and Girls Club students, encouraged them to share their thoughts.

"I think they (lawyers) go through a lot and they don't make enough money," said Carlissa Mason of South Boston. "I have seen a lot today."

Hackett said she was pleasantly surprised to find out one of her students was interested in pursuing a career in law as a result of the program.

"One student, assigned to shadow me for a brief period during the afternoon, told me that she intends to pursue a career in the law and to specialize in child advocacy," Hackett said. "For this student, observing the legal system in action was a valuable experience."

Others were even inspired to look into new career goals by day's end.

"I want to become a politician," said Anton Polanco of Seaport High School. "I want to make new rules."

Attorney Rosalynd Kabrhel of the Office of the Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, explained how her student shadow, Tawanda Small of Boston Community High School, was helpful to her staff during their day together.

"Tawanda helped an attorney do some research on the Net," said Kabrhel.

This is the fifth year the MBA has co-sponsored 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.

Attorneys who volunteered for the day including Boston attorneys Jonathan Tynes, Masai-Maliek King, Jacqueline Modiste, Steven Michael Key, Bret Cohen, Michael R. Costa, Richard Glovsky, Stephen Pepe, Martha Rush O'Mara, Rosalynd Kabrhel, Michael Fleischer and Gregg A. Rubenstein; the Hon. David G. Sacks of Springfield and Springfield attorneys Katherine Coolidge, Jacquelyn Lee, Mary Hiser and Roderick B. O'Connor; and Worcester attorneys Renee E. Hackett, Maryjo Hart, Kathryn E. Abare, Dustin C. Sarnoski, Kimberly A. Stone, Christine S. Collins, Daniel P. Flynn and Donna M. Truex.