Fordham Law School has welcomed nearly 50 high school female students to the eighth annual Justice Academy for Young Women, held at the Law School from July 5 to 22.
Established in 2009 by Bronx County Supreme Court Justice La Tia W. Martin, the program combines course work and leadership training to prepare and inspire future educational paths that might lead to careers in the law.
Each year, the preparatory program recruits high school female students from diverse and underserved backgrounds throughout New York City, and Westchester County. Approximately 250 students have completed the program since it launched.
For the first time in the academy’s history, the chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, Hon. Janet DiFiore, will welcome students. This year’s program—the second time Fordham has hosted—features classes taught by over 40 judges, attorneys, and Fordham Law professors.
Among the many volunteer faculty members participating this year is Associate Dean Leah Hill, who will talk to students about preparing for college, planning what courses to take, staying organized, and developing efficient study habits.
Over the course of the three-week program, students are introduced to legal topics such as criminal law, civil procedure, constitutional law, human trafficking, matrimonial law, environmental law, domestic violence, and cyber bullying. Students are also given the opportunity to go on various field trips, including a visit to the state legislature in Albany and an end-of-program trip to Washington, D.C., which includes a visit to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Capitol, and the White House.
“The program is an amazing opportunity for these women to learn about a career in law, make connections, and build relationships,” Hill said. “They gain exposure to professionals—from judges to academics and practicing lawyers. That is huge for some of these young women, whose only exposure to lawyers is on television.”
Hill noted that being accepted to this prestigious academic program inspires and motivates young women to challenge themselves and step outside their comfort zone.
“It makes the possibility of law school real for them in a way that many young people don’t have access to,” Hill added. “These young women are just so enthusiastic; I really look forward to this program every year.”
Students are selected for the program based on an application process. The program is free, and transportation and food are provided. In addition to following legal career paths, JAYW attendees have gone on to be scientists, doctors, and journalists.