Choose Law program encourages students statewide to “be the change”

Issue July/August 2007 By Seth Boyd

The Massachusetts Bar Association launched the Choose Law program at four sites across Massachusetts during the months of May and June in celebration of Law Day.

Originally conceived by the Young Lawyer’s Division of the American Bar Association, Choose Law is designed to encourage middle and high-school aged students – especially students of color – to "be the change" they wish to see in the future by considering a career in the law.

More than 60 students, from Boys & Girls Clubs in Springfield, Westfield, Chicopee, Worcester, Lowell and Dorchester, participated in the program’s inaugural sessions. Students were shown a brief video presentation, which served as a springboard for panel discussions moderated by groups of legal professionals about law careers and the importance of diversity in the legal profession.

The first session of the program was held on May 18 at the Worcester Boys & Girls Club, where a large group of students engaged in a lively discussion with a six-member panel. Volunteers included:

· Superior Court Associate Justice John T. Lu

· MBA Vice President Edward W. McIntyre, Esq., Law Office of Edward W.    McIntyre, Clinton

· Hector E. Pineiro, Esq., Law Office of Hector E. Pineiro, Worcester

· Assistant District Attorney Eduardo O. Velazquez, Worcester

· Assistant District Attorney Clarissa Johnson, Worcester

· Jose Antonio Rivera, a court officer at Worcester Superior Court. Rivera      is also a former three-time WBA boxing champion.

On May 24, MBA President Mark D Mason, of Cooley Shrair PC in Springfield, was joined by Tracy E. Duncan, Esq., Law Office of Tracy E. Duncan, Springfield and Maurice C. Powe, Esq., Law Office of Maurice C. Powe, Springfield. The group met with 24 students, representing Boys & Girls Clubs in Springfield, Westfield and Chicopee. Students began their afternoon with a tour of Springfield’s Hall of Justice, where they also met with Superior Court Judge Tina S. Page before returning to the MBA offices for the Choose Law video and discussion.

Also on May 24, students from the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys & Girls Club in Dorchester gathered at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston. After meeting with MBA President-elect David W. White Jr., of Breakstone, White & Gluck PC in Boston, and Angel Kelley, Esq., of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau in Cambridge, Vicky Kruckeberg of the Discovering Justice Program, treated the students to a tour of the historic courthouse and a performance of "Sojourner Truth: A Woman Ain’t I," a one-woman show performed by actress Kathryn Woods.

On June 12, at Lowell Superior Court, students from the Lowell Boys & Girls Club were greeted by Superior Court Judge Paul A. Chernoff, who invited the students into his courtroom to observe trials in progress and tour the jury room. Students also met with a panel of volunteers, including:

· Sanjay K. Sankaran, Esq., Palma Law Office, Lowell

· Jay V. Lee, Esq., Gallagher & Cavanaugh, Lowell

· Jamal T. Aruri, Esq., president, Greater Lowell Bar Association and Aruri    & Scully, Lowell

· Mayte Ramos, Law Offices of Mayte Ramos, Lowell.

In addition to other community based programs, the MBA will continue to offer this program to Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the state.