BBA Summer Jobs Students Gain Legal and Professional Skills

With the summer flying by, the Boston public high school students participating in the BBA Summer Jobs Program have continued to gain professional skills working in legal offices throughout the city, and have participated in a number of exciting enrichment seminars hosted by the BBA!

Law 101
The students began their series of enrichment seminars hearing from attorneys Katie Stock of Miyares and Harrington, LLP, and Nicole Phe of Nelson Mullins, about the basics of the legal profession, including the path through law school, the functioning of the court system, and key legal terminology. The students then tested out their new knowledge in an exciting Jeopardy game!

Students test their knowledge in a “Law 101” Jeopardy Game

Financial Aid: What You Need to Know
On July 17, Daniel Forster, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Westfield State University, walked the students through the ins and outs of college financial aid, including FAFSA, different types of scholarships, work study, and student loans. This presentation made the complicated process of seeking college financial aid much more accessible.

John Adams Courthouse Tour
The following week, the students took a tour of the John Adams Courthouse, learning about the historic building and the legacy of John Adams, particularly Adams’ representation of British soldiers following the Boston Massacre due to his conviction that even the most unpopular defendants must have a fair trial. The students had the opportunity to meet with Associate Justice Joseph M. Ditkoff of the Appeals Court, and asked him many questions about his career and the practice of law.

Students explore the John Adams Courthouse

Financial Literacy
At the end of July, the Summer Jobs students participated in a program on Financial Literacy, led by Bridget O’Sullivan Somogie and Jeremy Bardsley of the Massachusetts Securities Division. In order to increase the students’ awareness of basic financial skills, the presentation covered personal finance and budgeting; using credit and credit cards; and financing large purchases.

Consequences of Poor Financial Management at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Last week, thanks to a group of BBA volunteers and the Hon. Christopher J. Panos, the students had the opportunity to participate in a skit and mock trial that explained the processes at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The students first engaged in a mock meeting of creditors, with students playing the roles of “creditor” and “trustee,” and learning about the complications involved in declaring bankruptcy and its effect on one’s credit score. Students then met with Judge Panos and the Court clerks for a mock trial that discussed whether the bankrupt individual should have his car repossessed. Students were able to debate the pros and cons of the situation and asked many inquisitive questions, ultimately determining that the bankrupt individual would not be able to pay his creditor enough to keep the car. Many thanks to Judge Panos, the Court clerks, and attorneys Gary Cruickshank, Jessica Youngberg, Jonathan Horne, Alex Mattera, and Donald Lassman for making this experience such a success!

Mock City Council Hearing
On August 14, attorney Sean Nehill of the Boston Planning & Development Agency led the students through a mock City Council hearing in the real Iannella City Council Chamber at Boston City Hall! The students learned about the workings of municipal government and had the chance to participate in a mock hearing debating the pros and cons of a fictitious ordinance that would ban non-resident motorized vehicles in the City of Boston, with only a few exceptions. The students broke into groups representing a community-based residents’ group, an environmental advocacy organization, a business association, and an interest group from the automobile industry, and came up with compelling arguments to represent their positions on the ordinance. They then presented their testimony to another group of students playing the City Councilors, who ultimately decided not to pass the ordinance. The hearing sparked a lively debrief discussion about civic engagement and the various ways in which students can advocate for issues that are important to them.

Students hone their skills of persuasive argument at a mock City Council hearing at Boston City Hall

The Summer Jobs program will wrap up next week with a final speed networking seminar titled Exploring Legal Careers, and then with the Summer Jobs Celebration, where the students will be recognized for their accomplishments this summer and hear remarks from keynote speaker Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards.

The BBA’s Summer Jobs Program is a partnership between the BBA, the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Private Industry Council.  Many thanks to the participating law firms that have hired students this year, and to the Boston Bar Foundation for funding six public interest positions through its M. Ellen Carpenter Fund.