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Legal Outreach's Mentoring Program: Preparing Urban Youth for Debate

Friday, August 08, 2008

  • By: Stephanie Shemin
  • Organization: Legal Outreach

Legal Outreach prepares urban youth from underserved communities in New York City to compete at high academic levels by using intensive legal and educational programs as tools for fostering vision, developing skills, enhancing confidence, and facilitating the pursuit of higher education. We use law to attract junior high school students to academic programs that inspire and motivate them to strive for academic success. From the 8th through 12th grades, students work after school, on weekends, and during summers to build the skills and confidence they need to achieve their goals.

An important part of the Legal Outreach program is the pairing of students with mentors who are attorneys (in any capacity) in the community. We hope that mentors will serve as role models for our students by meeting with their mentee at least 1x a month to either assist them with their preparation for a constitutional law debate or to attend a social event that we plan. Being a mentor is a really wonderful way to make a difference. Many mentors develop close bonds with their mentee and remain a part of their lives until they matriculate to college.

The time commitment (for which you receive CLE credit) is approximately 5 hours/month and breaks down as follows:

- On months that we have debates (4x/year) you meet with your mentee for about 2 hrs at your convenience to prepare for the debate. Then we hope that you attend the actual debate, which takes place on a Friday from 7-9pm.
- On months that we do not have debates, we plan a social/cultural event and hope that you'll attend to spend time with your mentee (as well as meet the other students and network with the other mentors!).
- You are also welcome to periodically call and hang out with your mentee if you so choose.

By the way, you don't need any debate experience to help the kids prepare for their debates! Debates are really just moot court arguments based on a fact-pattern and a few cases that we provide the students. As long as you've been to law school, you'll be fine!

For an application to become a Legal Outreach mentor, please email Stephanie Shemin at sshemin@legaloutreach.org.

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