Now in its 11th year, Day @ Law School, which is organized by La Raza Law Students Association, brings hundreds of youth from underprivileged backgrounds to UC Hastings for a full day of learning about legal higher education.
Students from Bay Area elementary, middle, and high schools, along with their parents, will be able to tour the campus, attend sample law classes, hear what it’s like to study law, and even participate in moot court. They will likely come away with dozens of new vocabulary words and legal jargon, as well as a better understanding of courtroom dramas. The event is entirely run by La Raza and UC Hastings student volunteers who make sure the event runs smoothly, overseeing the breakfast and lunch and all of the day’s activities.
As the flagship event for La Raza, the Day @ Law School program is intended to provide low-income and working class students—who might otherwise never consider law school—with encouragement to pursue a legal career.
“We recognize that it is a privilege to have access to the information about law school like: when do you apply? Or even knowing that you have to go to college first,” said Anthony Rodriguez, Co-Political Chair of La Raza.
Daisy Mateo, the other Co-Political Chair, said that it’s important for kids to expand their conception of what an attorney does, and recognize that TV lawyers are only one version. “Coming from a similar background, I find the program to be really empowering, and it is important to give them exposure early,” she said.
Building on the success of the program, a new collaboration this year with the global business law firm DLA Piper will allow 30 high school-age participants to sign up for a follow-up "DLA Piper's Day at Law Firm."
“We are thrilled to partner with DLA Piper this year and are grateful for their generous support. Students who perhaps have never stepped foot in a skyscraper building downtown before will now be able to visit an international law firm and spend the day watching depositions, observing mediations, and attending meetings at DLA Piper. We want them to meet diverse attorneys and see what it’s like to work at a big law firm,” said Jeanette Acosta, who is helping to organize the event as the Co-Chair of La Raza.
The leadership of La Raza believes that the new partnership with DLA Piper demonstrates a growing emphasis on diversity within corporate law firms, and they hope that the program will be successful and become a regular sequel to Day at Law School.
“From both of these programs, La Raza hopes that kids who don’t come from legal legacy families will find inspiration and practical advice about what they need to do to get to law school,” said Rodriguez.
The event this year is co-sponsored by many on- and off-campus organizations, ranging from BLSA to Lexis Nexis, and will take place on Saturday, October 25th, 2014 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The growing list of sponsor organizations is below. Volunteers can register for the event here: www.dayatlawschoolsf.tumblr.com/volunteers
In 2004, La Raza Law Students Association, Black Law Student Association, and the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal joined efforts with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office to diversify the racial, ethnic, and socio-economic make up of the student body at UC Hastings. Students recognized that energy needed to be directed towards traditionally underrepresented minority youths that do not envision themselves graduating from high school, let alone going to law school.
D@LS is designed to introduce children ranging from ages 5 to 18 to the idea of attending law school. The event breaks students into age-conscious groups and features interactive simulated law classes, a mock trial, and discussions about the significance of a higher education.
2014 Organizational Sponsors:
-La Raza Law Students Association
-DLA Piper LLP
-Associated Students of UC Hastings (ASUCH)
-Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
-Asian Pacific American Law Students (APALSA)
-Vietnamese American Law Students
-Pilipino American Law Society
-South Asian Law Students Association
-Hastings Association of Muslim Law Students
-Hastings Public Interest Law Foundation (HPILF)
-UC Hastings Student Services
-UC Hastings Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP)
-UC Hastings Office of Externships and Pro Bono Programs