Legal LINK

Who are we?
Legal LINK is a subcommittee of the North Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. Legal LINK stands for Leadership, Information, Networking, and Knowledge. This program is designed to increase interest in legal careers among high school students who are underrepresented in the legal profession. Legal LINK consists of one-hour sessions focused on each of the LINK building blocks and includes a field trip to a local law school or courthouse. Last year, we participated in 2 schools, but this year so far, we have expanded to four schools — two in Durham, one in Roxboro, and one in Charlotte. We aim to reach out to at least 20 students each session and bring 4-5 attorneys, law students, or judges to serve as panelists.

Panelists: Erika Johnson, ADA for the 16th Prosecutorial District, Taylor Dewberry, Smith Anderson, Trisha Barfield, Carruthers & Roth, P.A., Sheila Spence, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Leadership Session
We had over 40 students sign up for our first Leadership session on 10/18 at Southern High School in Durham, NC. Our speakers addressed important questions like the following: “What makes someone a good leader?” “Who are some leaders that you admire” “How do you balance being a leader and a team player?” What do you do when you fail?” Our students were engaged with the panelists and excited to know more ways that they can start serving now.

Networking Session
In this session, the students learned the value of networking. We had 4 diverse attorneys share their experiences with networking including the strategies they use to calm their nerves. Additionally, the panelists addressed that there are several informal ways to start networking which may include conversations with your friends, family, church, sports organizations, or volunteering within the community.

Charlotte Leadership Session
On November 8, we hosted our first Legal LINK session at Garinger High School in Charlotte. There were six students (1 senior and 5 freshmen) and one guidance counselor. There were five panelists (4 attorneys and 1 judge). The names of the panelists were: (1) Larissa Mervin, (2) Robyn Hicks-Guinn, (3) Charles Hands, III, (4) Jasmine Gregory, and (5) Mecklenburg County District Court Judge Rickye McKoy-Mitchell. We discussed leadership; what makes a good leader, leaders admired by the panelists, characteristics of a good leader, why the panelists became an attorney, panelists current position, and their backgrounds. The students were engaged and asked good questions.

Taittiona Miles, Staff Attorney at NC Prisoner Legal Services, speaking to a group of students during a breakout session.

The next session is February 14. We are in the planning stage for a courthouse tour, but it will likely take place in January or February 2020. Lastly, we are planning a tour of the U.S. Immigration Court in Charlotte in March 2020.

How to Get Involved
If you are interested in serving as a panelist for this committee, it would not take up too much of your time. It only takes one hour of your day to share your past experiences that may change and shape the life of a high schooler admiring your life as a lawyer!

In addition to serving as a panelist, we are looking for members that are interested in scheduling these events-reaching out to contacts including local judges and attorneys, writing blog posts after our events, and social media gurus to capture the magic. If you have any questions about Legal LINK be sure to reach out to co-chairs, Sheila Spence at sspenc19@eagles.nccu.edu or Shernika Smith at esquire.ssmith@gmail.com.