Guest Post by Liz Novak: Legal Diversity Clerkship Program Still Thrives…and Grows!

By guest blogger, Liz Novak

Last week I wrote about one of our busier groups over the summer – Lawyers for Learning. This week I’m writing about another busy group – our class of 2013 summer diversity clerkship associates– and all of those involved in our diversity clerkship program.

For those who don’t know, the Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program is co-sponsored by the MCBA (through its Diversity Committee), the Rochester Black Bar Association (RBBA), and the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys (GRAWA). The program seeks to increase diversity in the legal profession in the Rochester area by attracting qualified first-year law students from historically under-represented groups within the legal profession, including racial and ethnic minorities, to work in paid positions with Rochester area law firms and other legal employers.

This year, we’ve welcomed 11 Legal Diversity Clerkship Associates to Rochester:

Student Summer Position Law School
Esinam   Agbemenu Nixon Peabody Columbia Law
Kayla Arias The Wolford Law   Firm Syracuse Law
Upnit Bhatti Monroe County Public Defenders Office –and–                 Woods Oviatt Gilman Syracuse Law
Karen Bryant   Thomson Reuters Ohio Northern University Law
Christopher   Dor Underberg Kessler Touro/Jacob   Fuchsberg Law
Leyla Hadi Harris Beach Columbia Law
Mohammad   Haque Hiscock &   Barclay UB Law
Jamella   James City of Rochester   Law Dept. UB Law
Danielle   Morrison Harter Secrest   & Emery Syracuse Law
Priscilla   Osei-Bonsu VLSP  (Funded through the MCB Foundation) Indiana Maurer  School of Law
Fulvia   Vargas Ward Greenberg   Heller & Reidy Syracuse Law

And as Louise Spinelli will tell you, they’ve been busy!  The students are enjoying their work experiences and the opportunities and events they have participated in – lunch with Paul Speranza; interview skills workshop; tour and dinner at the Susan B. Anthony House; a Jazz Festival concert and dinner in the Xerox corporate tent; lunch with Mayor Tom Richards and members of the Law Dept; and, a Red Wings baseball game in the Nixon suite.

clerkship blog 1

While the 11 students come from 6 different law schools, they’ve become fast friends. They have also been connecting with many attorneys in our legal community and are impressed by the collegiality.  We hope many of the students return next summer!

clerkship blog 2

So many folks work hard to make this program a success, including the firms, our Foundation, and all of the lawyers who take part. And hard work does pay off – we have 17 alumn of the program who live and work in Rochester today! This is a true testament of the program. Click here to hear from 2 program alum practicing in Rochester.


And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The  Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program recently was bestowed with the ABA’s Partnership Award! The ABA Standing Committee thought “the clerkship program was well-developed and executed. Surely one of the indicators of the program’s success is that 17 participating students have returned to the Rochester legal community.” Incoming President Diane Cecero will accept the the award along with Judy Toyer and Mary Loewenguth at the Annual Meeting on August 9. Congratulations and carry on!

Thanks for checking in,


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