Last week the Center for Law and Policy hosted a week long summer camp entitled “Camp Law and Order.” The program was sponsored by the Orange County Bar Association Foundation and hosted by FAMU Law School. It found eleven high school students from Jones and Evans High School enjoy an immersive experience in the justice system. Students were selected by career counselors at their school to participate in week-long activities culminating in a mock trial put on by the students.
The first day saw the students spend the day at the Orange County Courthouse Complex. They started their day with a tour of the Orange County Clerk’s Office. They had a backstage view of the role of clerks in our judicial system as well as the self-help program put on by the clerk’s office. Next, they traveled to the state attorney’s office where attorneys, paralegals, and investigators spent time with each student talking about careers in the legal field. This was followed by a visit with the public defender’s office to learn about being a defense attorney and life as an advocate for indigent clients. Monday’s festivities ended with an intimate conversation with Judge Gisella Laurent who shared her connection with the students as an alum of Evans High School.
On the second day, the students changed their focus to the civil system by getting a tour of the city attorney’s attorney office at Orlando City Hall. Chief Assistant Natasha Williams was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to talk frankly with the youngsters regarding the hurdles African Americans can encounter on a career path to becoming a lawyer. She was followed by a series of discussions given at the law office of CPLS where paralegal, mediators, and attorneys shared personal stories over pizza with the students to empower them to follow their dreams. The second day ended when the students learned about the positive ways a legal professional can impact a community through working and volunteering at Legal Aid.
The third day started with three speakers from Valencia College’s Paralegal Program, UCF’s Legal Studies Department, and FAMU College of Law, respectively. Each individual was able to explain about the different programs and how the students could earn their degrees at the different institutions in an effort to obtain rewarding careers in the law. Once the speakers completed, the students were given a mock trial problem that they would be arguing 48 hours later in the ceremonial courtroom at FAMU.
Over the next day and a half, faculty members from UCF’s Legal Studies department as well as UCF students from the mock trial program, spent hours working with the students. They learned about the different parts of a trial, how to make an argument, as well as the ability to exude confidence in a public setting. Ultimately, the students performed wonderfully resulting in the mock defendant being found guilty on one charge and not guilty of the other.
With UCF’s move downtown, the Center hopes to put on future events similar to Camp Law and Order. However, to be successful, the Center needs the help of the local legal community. Together we can make a meaningful impact on these students lives and empower them to seek a career in the law should they choose. If you would like to be involved in events like this please contact the center directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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