In July 2018, Fordham Law School hosted the tenth annual Scales of Justice Academy. Established in 2009 by New York State Supreme Court Justice La Tia W. Martin, the three-week academy provides underserved, high-school young women with the early life skills necessary to succeed academically in law school.
The 46 students in this year’s cohort came from high schools in each of New York City’s boroughs as well as Westchester County. Participants attended classes on foundational legal topics, including the criminal justice system, the role of the district attorney, legal research and writing, mediation, juries, and appellate procedures, among other substantive lectures.
Lecturers included Fordham Law Associate Dean Leah Hill, as well as judges from the Court of Appeals, the Bronx County District Attorney, New York State politicians, and other academics. This year’s academy opened with remarks by Justice Martin and her principal law clerk, Dafina O. Cobbinah, Esq. A farewell video message from the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, Janet DiFiore, was presented during the closing ceremony.
During the first week, academy students visited the Midtown Community Court, and visited the New York City Criminal Court during the second week to observe criminal proceedings, addressed by Supervising Judge Tamiko Amaker. On July 27, during the third week of the academy, the students traveled to Washington, D.C., for a field trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Capitol building, and a tour of a local college.
To complete the academy, each student submitted a legal memorandum as well as a written statement regarding their most memorable academy session. During the closing ceremony, students were presented with certificates of completion.
Since its inception, over 400 New York young women have completed the academy. Many of the Academy graduates are now enrolled as undergraduate students in colleges and universities throughout the country, including Fordham, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, New York University, Villanova, Penn State, and the College of William and Mary, among many others.