Monday, November 27, 2006
Posted by Alan Childress
Imagine introducing 40+ teens in foster care to NFL and NBA lawyers, hip and happy law students, and participation in a "training camp holdout" negotiations simulation--all over massive burgers and buffalo wings at an ESPN Zone (the only restaurant that ought to have that warning label on it like videogames: May Cause Seizures--also one of the few featuring barcalounger service [no kidding]). Also prizes of laptops and iPods, $50 in arcade bucks by ESPN for everyone, along with presents donated by law students (traditional gift drives often skip teens--anyway, no Tat2 Makers, please).
That was "Law Exploration Day," holiday style, run by students at George Washington University Law School from BLSA and the SBA's minority affairs committee (all as reported here by Claire Duggan on the GW website with interesting detail and great photos). I bet the organizers thought the kids would be impressed by the fancy sports agents and sports talk, and I am sure they were. But I wonder if these students saw that they were the coolest part of this--the role models that such teens could most closely identify with and most immediately see themselves becoming. That would be plenty.
That is a real Thanksgiving, minus the tradition of serving cranberries and hypocrisy about Indians. I am also thankful that other TV networks besides ESPN have not started frenzied theme restaurants. My second worst nightmare is ducking out of the rain and suddenly finding myself ordering in the Lifetime Channel Zone (and they are out of wings). Doubtful barcaloungers there.
LPB has highlighted some notable pro bono work by California lawyers doing the "affirmative ethics of a profession"--as well as scores of law students traveling to New Orleans to make a difference, and they will (including some amazing GW participants in the Student Hurricane Network whom I have met). This story reveals that others can make a difference without going anywhere except into their own community and being themselves--showing the kids what a great thing that would be. Says GW 2L and organizer Rhonda Foxx, "You can pray for these kids, but you can also actually do something to help their situations." [Her photo here.] No less essential were corporate fundraising by 2L Asten Hall (unwittingly acquiring the entire skill set to be a Dean someday) and the help of dozens of volunteers.
I strongly suspect that the event's playbook can be emulated in your hometown too, with help from alumni doing cool things with law (or is it rad?). Maybe you could contact Ms. Foxx for her advice and program--but hey let her get through finals first. Kids get to see career options beyond the illusory playing of sports. And see the positive side of the profession. These GW students who offered their holiday for this event are right at the top of the most positive side, to physically contort the metaphor.
Imagine changing a kid's life in one day, by letting him or her see the possibilities and the power of the 22-year-old hero. Or better yet, don't imagine it.