Over the past three weeks, over 50 Boston Public School students have been working at law firms, courts, government agencies, and legal services organizations across the city as a part of the BBA Summer Jobs Program. Monday, July 10th kicked off the official start of the Boston Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program, which is a partnership with Boston Public Schools, the Boston Private Industry Council, and dozens of organizations throughout the city. At the BBA, our students started their morning on the 10th hearing advice and encouragement before they travelled with their supervisors for the summer back to their respective offices. Keynote speaker Natashia Tidwell (Collora LLP) spoke about her experience growing up in the area and joining the Cambridge Police Department after high school. Tidwell was the first officer assigned to work within Cambridge Rindge & Latin School and she built unity between students, their community, and the police department. While working at the Cambridge Police Department, Tidwell worked through undergrad and then law school taking evening classes while rising to the rank of lieutenant. After graduating law school, she worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as a professor at New England Law, and she helped provide input on policies for police departments around the country prior to joining Collora.
Tidwell used her experiences to show the students that there’s no one path to any goal. While some in the room may graduate high school and immediately enter college and then law school, others may not attend college right away or end up in the career they expect. She also reminded students to not measure themselves against others noting to not “compare someone else’s outside to your inside” because everyone has their own struggles. While the students are working this summer, Tidwell encouraged them to make the most of the experience and learn from those around them.
Throughout the summer, the students also participate in weekly Enrichment Seminars through the BBA, which are designed to enhance the students’ understanding of working in the legal field. First, the students all received a Law 101 crash course. Attorneys Carla Reeves and Priya Amar (Goulston & Storrs) walked the students through the requirements for becoming an attorney, including completing undergrad and law school and the all-important bar exam. Students also learned the difference between federal and state courts and criminal and civil cases. By learning the basics and some simple vocabulary, the students are more prepared to converse within their offices and understand how their work compares to what they’ve seen on TV.
For many of the students in the program, this is their first paid job and with that comes their first paycheck. In the second week of the program, students met with Chris Condon (Murphy & King) for a financial literacy overview. The topics of the M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program were condensed for the students with particular emphasis on budgeting and banking. Students asked many questions about bank fees and the importance of a good credit score. Later in the summer, the students will visit the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to learn about the consequences of poor budgeting and filing for bankruptcy.
Most recently, the students visited the John Adams Courthouse for a tour of the exhibits and courtrooms. Two of the courthouse’s permanent exhibits introduced the students to Boston’s rich legal history: the Sacco and Vanzetti trial and John Adams, whose regular meetings with attorneys in Boston are the origin of the BBA. Students also visited two courtrooms where they learned the literal meaning of “passing the bar” and were able to experience sitting on the bench in the Supreme Judicial Court’s main courtroom. Through exposure to the courtroom and hearing about the history of the building and the judicial system, the students create a fuller picture of the legal system in Massachusetts.
With four weeks left in the program, the students are nearly halfway through their internship. Coming up, they’ll be learning about student loans and meeting attorneys across many fields of law. We’re also grateful for the organizations that have hired students this summer and are providing the students with essential workplace skills and experiences.