Training and Support Program Helps Prepare Young Women for Entrance into Law School


Fordham Law School is hosting the 11th annual Scales of Justice Academy, a three-week legal education program aimed to help prepare young women for entrance into law school.

The current session commenced on July 8, 2019 and was kicked off with an address by the Honorable Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the State of New York and introductory remarks by the Honorable La Tia W. Martin, founder of the academy and Leah H. Hill, former associate dean at Fordham University.

Judge Martin recognized a need to establish a training and support program to help young women from diverse backgrounds prepare for law school education.  She established the academy in 2009 with the goal of providing underserved, diverse young women with the early life skills necessary to succeed academically in law school.

To date, over 450 young women have successfully completed the Justice Academy. Many are now enrolled as undergraduate and law school students in colleges, universities and law schools, including Yale University, Cornell University, Columbia University, New York University, Fordham University, Pace University, St. John’s University, Villanova University, American University, Boston University, Syracuse University, Manhattan College, College of Mount Saint Vincent, Colleges of the State and City University of New York, John Jay College, Pennsylvania State University, Seton Hall University, Farleigh Dickinson University, Drexel University, and College of William and Mary.

This year, forty outstanding female high school students have been selected to participate in the three-week course.  The current class includes students from the Bronx, Kings County, Queens, Manhattan and Westchester. This pre-college, legal preparatory educational program combines course work in substantive law topics and moot court sessions with leadership training skills.

Students will attend classes and lectures covering a broad range of topics including criminal law, the roles of the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney, and defense counsel. The program will also touch on domestic relations law, appellate procedures, mediation and alternative dispute resolution, the American Jury System, real estate law, elder law, landlord-tenant law, legal research and writing, medical malpractice, social media, forensic science, intellectual property, human trafficking, immigration, and domestic violence.  Students will also participate in a moot court competition and will have the opportunity to visit a New York City Criminal Court as well as a trip to Washington D.C. for a tour of the United States Supreme Court and the Library of Congress.

The entirely volunteer group of instructors and lecturers includes numerous distinguished members of the judiciary, politicians and local prosecutors including:

  • Honorable Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals
  • Honorable Rowan D. Wilson, Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals
  • Honorable Jenny Rivera, Associated Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals
  • Honorable Troy Weber, Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department
  • Honorable Dianne Renwick, Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department
  • Darcel Clark, Bronx County District Attorney
  • Andrea Stewart Cousins, New York State Senator
  • Ruth Hassell-Thompson, former new York State Senator
  • Leah H. Hill, former Associate Dean, Fordham Law School
  • Horace Anderson, Dean, Pace University Elizabeth Haub School of Law

All students are also required to participate in community service projects in recognition of their mandatory service obligation to help others.  This year’s class will volunteer at the Susan G. Comen Race for the Cure event at Central Park in September.

At the conclusion of the program, each student will be required to submit a legal memorandum as well as a written statement regarding their most memorable Justice Academy session.

During the closing ceremony, the students will be presented with a Certificate of Completion.


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