May 1, in addition to being the source of endless Justin Timberlake memes, is Law Day, a time for lawyers to teach students around the the country about being a lawyer.
This past Law Day, the Bar Association of Baltimore City honored Kate McComiskey, general counsel to Sylvan Learning, for public service. In addition to many other projects, Kate led a group of young lawyers in inspiring young Baltimore students to become future lawyers.
This year’s Law Day theme was separation of powers. Kate, along with her co-chair of the BABC’s Public Education Committee, Alan Dunklow, planned two Law Day initiatives: the first in classrooms across the city; the second was at City Hall.
The committee created lesson plans around the separation of powers theme and then sought volunteers to teach the lessons in various elementary, middle, and high school classrooms across Baltimore. On Law Day, more than 30 lawyers teamed up to teach students in Baltimore about separation of powers and to discuss the roles of government. The students from Francis Scott Key and Highlandtown middle schools went through the lesson ahead of time so that they would be prepared for their field trip to City Hall on Law Day.
The students heard from a “Law Day panel” consisting of a representative from each branch of government: Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello; Jason Davidson, deputy director of government affairs for the Maryland Department of Human Services; and Court of Special Appeals Judge Douglas Nazarian. Each of the speakers gave a brief introduction, including a description of his job and how his branch interacts with the other branches of government on a regular basis. The students came prepared and, like any good lawyers in training, they had so many questions they stayed well into their lunchtime. Fortunately for the students, the speakers were kind enough to stay for lunch and continued to answer questions.
“I was so grateful for the time our speaker-volunteers took to personally engage with the students, and I know it meant a lot to the students and teachers, as well,” McComiskey said.
And she is not finished! More programming is planned.
“Next year, we are hoping to expand even further with a few more schools to increase the (Public Education Committee’s) presence within the community,” she said. “The students are already raring to go.”
The program is not just May 1, but consists of mock trial preparations throughout the year.
“We have a group of extraordinary volunteers who really stepped up to the plate last year to help the students, and I am hopeful that they
will all be back to help us grow the program,” she said.
So for those of you looking to get involved — it can be as easy as signing up for one day in May! You can make a huge difference by helping with a single program and there are so many opportunities like these for young lawyers around the state. Don’t feel limited by Law Day—there are trial programs around Maryland and the nation that are always looking for young lawyers to inspire future lawyers.
Think about this as a great way to get involved throughout the year, and mark it on your calendar for next year because before you know it, “it’s gonna be May” again.