English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP (ELPO Law) created a program in the fall of the 2017/18 school year to help mentor students who would like to enter the field of law, with a particular focus on underrepresented and diverse populations. The goal of the program is to help diversify the field of law by ensuring that students of many different backgrounds consider law as a career option.
The program works to bring a variety of legal professions into high school classrooms, making representatives from the legal field available to discuss what educational paths students should pursue if they would like to pursue law as a career. The program has increased its scope since its creation to also provide opportunities for insight into careers in law enforcement as well as those available through the 911 Dispatch Office, Warren County Regional Jail, etc.
This past semester, students at WCHS, WEHS, and BGHS were able to participate in the program via a series of three recorded Zoom presentations. The first presentation introduced the program as well as two attorneys from ELPO Law who have been instrumental in the creation of the program – attorneys Bob Young and Rebecca Simpson. During the second presentation, students were able to view a police officer, jailer, 911 dispatch operator, and ELPO Law attorney Buzz English as they spoke about what their jobs entail on a daily basis, what motivated them to pursue their careers, and why diversity is important in each of these fields. For the final presentation, the students got to vote on which career they would like to have a deeper insight into. ELPO Law attorney Kyle Roby joined this call to outline the details of what it takes to be a Personal Injury attorney and the path he took to get to his position today as a partner at ELPO Law.
Typically the program also includes a trip to the courthouse to witness a courtroom session in progress, a tour of the jail and police department, a panel discussion with a variety of legal professionals, and a roundtable discussion opportunity for older students participating in the program. However, due to health and safety concerns, the program was limited to providing as much of this experience as possible via Zoom.
Students will have the opportunity to participate in the program once again during the next semester where additional content will be covered. New students to the program are also welcome to join in. While all students with an interest in the field of law are invited to participate in the program, there is a particular emphasis on those with diverse backgrounds.
“If we’re going to diversify the field of law, we’re going to need to do so in all aspects, from law enforcement to law firms,” says Bob Young, managing partner of ELPO. “People who are from different racial and ethnic backgrounds or who are considered diverse in other ways enrich the profession, challenge our thinking and help us better represent all people. We truly believe that many people would consider the field of law or law enforcement if they know there will be opportunities available to them, and that’s the message we’re bringing.”
“One of our top priorities as a school district is ensuring equitable opportunities for all of our students,” stated WCPS Superintendent Rob Clayton. “Our partnership with ELPO through the Legal Diversity Pipeline not only demonstrates our commitment toward equity but it provides our students with direct access to current professionals in the field of law. We are optimistic that this partnership will provide underrepresented students with the confidence and skills necessary to effectively pursue a career in the legal industry.”
“Our students and school districts benefit when community members and local businesses work with schools to provide opportunities,” says Gary Fields, Superintendent of the Bowling Green Independent School District. “This partnership is a ‘win-win’ connecting students interested in a career in law or law enforcement to current local professionals.”
For more information about the Legal Diversity Pipeline Project and Diversity and Inclusion efforts at ELPO Law, visit the ELPO Law website here: https://www.elpolaw.com/about-us/diversity-and-inclusion/ or call 270-781-6500.