Summer Law Institute for new H.S. students

August 30, 2010 3:09:45 PM PDT
The Summer Law Institute offers students entering high school a chance at learning about the law profession.

"The defendant committed the crime and is guilty," said the prosecutor in a mock trial.

You might think it was an actual trial if it wasn't for the ages of the people involved.

"The evidence will show that Miss Shepard was not acting in self-defense," the prosecutor continued.

State Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Chambers is among the professionals who volunteer their time for the mock trials.

It is part of the Summer Law Institute, aimed at inner city students entering high school.

"They can feel what it's like to be a lawyer; get a sense of what they could do with their skills professionally," said Nelson Tebbe, a Brooklyn Law School professor.

The five-week program is run at five campuses, including Brooklyn Law School.

The carefully selected students get a lot of academic training.

"Critical thinking, analytical skills, the students write an essay every night, they take a test every Friday, so at the same time that they're...we're inspiring them, we're also preparing them for high school," said Sandy Santana, the "Legal Outreach" director.

"You just have to deal with it and then at the end you'll feel really proud of yourself," said student, Obi Iloka.

The mock trials are a chance for parents to be proud, including those of "prosecutor" Larissa Klaus.

"This has expanded her horizons, they've exposed her to different people, and it's so important to learn about our judicial system," said parent, Sandra Adorno-Klaus.

Only about half of the students Eyewitness News spoke to are interested in careers in the field of law, but they all seem to agree the skills they picked up during the Summer Law Institute will serve them no matter what they decide to do with their lives.