Portland School Notebook

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Legal field diversity encouraged at local student conference

PORTLAND—Nearly 70 students from Casco Bay High School participated in a hands-on educational law conference on Dec. 7 at University of Maine School of Law in Portland. Bernstein Shur attorneys led the conference, along with Maine Law students, using curriculum from the National Association for Law Placement and Street Law.

The event, part of the NALP/Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program, is an effort to promote diversity in the legal profession, and was the first of its kind offered in Maine or New England. The program, funded by the Sam L. Cohen Foundation, partners law firms with diverse high school classes in an effort to engage the students, teach them about civil law and encourage students to consider careers in the legal profession.

Students participated in interactive sessions covering contract law, the first amendment and the legislative hearing process. During the sessions, the high school students negotiated a mock Nike shoe endorsement deal, created a school policy on religious expression and held a mock legislative hearing on the merits of a bill proposing to raise the minimum driving age in Maine to 18.

Bernstein Shur is one of only 10 law firms across the country participating in the program, and the only firm of its size to have ever offered such a conference (usually, this program is offered by much larger firms in larger cities). The conference was organized by the firm, University of Maine School of Law and Casco Bay High School.

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Bernstein Shur Associate Asha Echeverria leads a Dec. 7 conference for Casco Bay High School students aimed at diversifying the legal field. About 70 students took part in the first conference of its kind to be offered in Maine or New England.