Attorneys Spark Interest in Legal Careers Among Minority High-School Students

The Allstate/Premier Law Firm Diversity Roundtable hosted a conference today at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld for more than 50 area high-school students, who learned firsthand about corporate law practice.

The conference is the culmination of a semester-long educational outreach effort during which lawyers from Allstate and two of the company’s Premier Law Firms, Akin Gump and Kirkland & Ellis, visited Thomas A. Edison and T.C. Williams High Schools in Alexandria, Virginia, and instructed students in insurance and employment law. The curriculum used by the lawyers has been modeled after a legal diversity pipeline program developed by Street Law, Inc. and the Association of Corporate Counsel that encourages young people of color to consider law-related careers.

The December 13 Conference included:

  • a videotaped message from Allstate corporate spokesperson, Dennis Haysbert
  • an insurance litigation session where students demonstrated their knowledge of contracts, torts and insurance law acquired this semester in the classroom
  • a mock trial based on a sexual harassment claim drawing from the students’ classroom lessons on the goals of Title VII and the elements of a Title VII sexual harassment claim, and
  • a career fair featuring Allstate and PLF lawyers discussing the education and work credentials necessary for their jobs.

Students also had an opportunity to network with other attorneys and staff from Allstate, Akin Gump and Kirkland & Ellis.

The conference was hosted by the Allstate/Premier Law Firm Diversity Roundtable, whose mission is to be recognized as role models for U.S. corporations and law firms in their management of diversity and work/life practices.

Allstate and its Premier Law Firms recognize and embrace the role that large corporations can play in developing future leaders and is committed to encouraging diversity among its ranks. Diversity is especially important in the legal profession, where minorities today are severely under-represented. In Washington, D.C., for example, the 2003 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau reports that minorities account for 72 percent of the city’s population, yet a study by the National Association of Law Firm Placement reports that fewer than 12 percent of D.C.’s 12,006 lawyers (partners and associates) are minorities. Together with the Street Law Corporate Legal Diversity Pipeline Program, Allstate is addressing this issue by partnering with schools with large minority populations through the Street Law program and by educating students of color about legal careers.

“Our goal is to educate students, especially minority students, about the legal profession,” said Michael J. McCabe, vice president and general counsel of The Allstate Corporation and senior vice president and general counsel of Allstate Insurance Company. “We want them to understand that it offers much more than criminal law, which is mostly what they see on television.” McCabe has been personally involved in actively promoting the Street Law program.

Anthony T. Pierce, a partner at Akin Gump, added, “Akin Gump is committed to encouraging diversity in the legal field. In partnering with Allstate and others, we aim to provide a pipeline for the next generation of minority lawyers and other legal professionals.”

The Street Law program offers a proven way for corporations to take a proactive role in reversing the under-representation of minorities in the legal ranks.

“Street Law is pleased to be working with Allstate, its premier law firms and Fairfax and Alexandria City Public Schools to help prepare the next generation of lawyers and other legal professionals and to ensure greater diversity in the legal profession,” remarked Lee Arbetman, director of U.S. Programs at Street Law. “Allstate and its partners have made an impressive commitment to strengthening our community and our democracy.”

This year, Allstate is partnering with high schools in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Newark, New Jersey. Allstate’s volunteer legal professionals serve as resources, mentors and teachers for the students, providing the extra academic education and support these students need to successfully pursue a legal career. Allstate has plans to roll-out this program in other regions in the future.

About The Allstate Corporation

Now celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of Allstate Insurance Company, The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer. Widely known through the “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate®” slogan, Allstate helps individuals in approximately 17 million households protect what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow through approximately 14,100 exclusive agencies and financial professionals in the U.S. and Canada. Customers can access Allstate products and services such as auto insurance and homeowners insurance through Allstate agencies, or in select states at allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®. EncompassSM and Deerbrook® Insurance brand property and casualty products are sold exclusively through independent agents. The Allstate Financial Group provides life insurance, supplemental accident and health insurance, annuity, banking and retirement products designed for individual, institutional and worksite customers that are distributed through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, financial institutions and broker-dealers.

About Akin Gump

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a leading international law firm, numbers more than 900 lawyers with offices in Austin, Brussels, Dallas, Dubai, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Taipei and Washington. The firm has a diversified practice and represents regional, national and international clients in a wide range of areas, including antitrust; appellate; banking and finance; capital markets; communications and information technology; corporate and securities; corporate governance; employee benefits; energy; entertainment and media; environmental; estate planning, wealth transfer and probate; financial restructuring; global security; government contracts; health; insurance; intellectual property; international trade; investment funds; labor and employment; land use; litigation; mergers and acquisitions; private equity; privatization; project development and finance; public law and policy; real estate development and finance; Russia/CIS; tax; and technology.

About Street Law, Inc.

Street Law, Inc. began in 1972 as a practical law curriculum designed as part of a clinical project by a group of Georgetown University law students. Based in Silver Spring, Maryland, Street Law provides practical, participatory education about law, democracy and human rights both nationally and internationally.

A unique blend of content and methodology, Street Law uses techniques that promote cooperative learning, critical thinking, and the ability to participate in a democratic society. For 30 years, Street Law, Inc.’s programs and curricula have promoted knowledge of legal rights and responsibilities, engagement in the democratic process and belief in the rule of law, among both youth and adults. Street Law is located at 1010 Wayne Ave, Suite 870 in Silver Spring, Md. 20910, Tel. (301) 589-1130, Fax (301) 589-1131, www.streetlaw.org.

About Thomas A. Edison High School

Thomas A. Edison High School is located in Alexandria, Virginia, and is part of the nationally recognized Fairfax County Public School system. Edison High School has a total student population of approximately 1,778. The mission of the school is to always seize opportunities and work hard to make good things happen for its students. The students participating in the Allstate/Premier Law Firm Diversity pipeline program are enrolled in the newly implemented “Law in Action” class taught by veteran teacher and former attorney Karen Martin. The class uses the Street Law textbook, and through this program has used materials developed by the attorneys from Allstate, Akin Gump and Kirkland & Ellis. The majority of students at Edison High School are of color. Forty percent of the student population is White, 23 percent is Hispanic, 20 percent is Black, and 13 percent is Asian.

About T.C. Williams High School

Located in Alexandria, Virginia, T.C. Williams, featured in the motion picture “Remember the Titans,” has a total student population of approximately 1,997 students and is one of the most respected, comprehensive high schools in the country. Part of the Alexandria City Public School system, its facilities and its top students compare favorably with the best private schools. T.C. Williams is named for a former superintendent of schools who served from the mid-1930s until the mid-1960s. The school opened in 1965 and has served the Alexandria community and tens of thousands of students well. Attorneys worked with Athene Brown’s Business Law class. Forty-three percent of the student body is Black, 25 percent is Hispanic, 24 percent is White, and 7 percent is Asian.

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