Next week, the Boston Bar Association’s Summer Jobs Program — a key diversity and inclusion pipeline initiative — will kick off with coffee, muffins and remarks from Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland. The Program, which began in 1993 with just 16 students from Boston’s public high school, will welcome a record-breaking 55 students this year. The program allows law firms, law offices, and legal departments to invest in the future of our city – by drawing upon the talents of an ethnically and racially diverse group of teens from Boston’s neighborhoods.
The Summer Jobs Program is not simply an employment opportunity for students, but an enrichment experience – with a strong focus on education. Students in the program attend weekly seminars on rights and responsibilities in the workplace, civic responsibility, and the judicial system.
Students will also participate in the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, a joint venture of the BBA and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts. Led by seasoned bankruptcy attorneys, the financial literacy training focuses on personal finance and budgeting, using credit, and financing a car. The finale is held at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, where students participate in a mock bankruptcy hearing and have the opportunity to speak with a Bankruptcy Judge.
Other educational events lined up for the students include a mock City Council hearing to be led by former City Council President, Lawrence S. DiCara at Boston City Hall, a tour of the Adams Courthouse and Supreme Judicial Court, and sessions on the legal implications of file-sharing, and understanding the college admissions process.
Beyond the Billable reached out to Anthony Betances, a 2011 participant to find out what he thought about the enrichment program.
My favorite seminar took place at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The reason it was my favorite was because it put into practice many of the things that we had already heard about in the past seminars. We already knew that irresponsible spending could carry serious consequences, and we had been given some information on bankruptcy, but the unfolding of the process in front of our very own eyes had more of an impact. All of a sudden, someone spending $40,000 or so but getting hit with more than $80,000 in fees and interest became more real, as did the possibility of buying a car and getting into more debt than that new car is even worth. It really just showed how ridiculous and reckless things can get if you’re not proactive about, and conscious of, your financial life.
The Summer Jobs Program is a longstanding collaboration of the Boston Bar Association, the City of Boston, and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC). The students are high school rising juniors, seniors and college freshmen, with some work and volunteer experience. All participants completed an application, provided at least two letters of recommendation, and submitted an essay explaining why they want to participate in this program. The students are high-achievers with their eyes set on college. For many of the students, this program will be their first exposure to law as a profession.
Through generous funding from the Boston Bar Foundation’s M. Ellen Carpenter Fund and the Austin P. Jones Fund, 10 students will hold positions in legal services agencies, government and court offices. All of the enrichment seminars are led by BBA volunteers.