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MBA Launches Major Diversity Initiative

The MBA Diversity Committee is pleased to announce an exciting new initiative for 2009:  the launch of a summer program designed to provide paid internships to first year law students of diverse backgrounds.  The initial goal of the Summer 1L Program is to place six law students with Montgomery County law firms and corporate/government legal departments during the summer of 2009.  The program will run for an eight week time period with each student receiving a stipend, to be paid by the employer, of $500 a week.

Michael Rogers and Ellen Fischer have been named Co-Chairs of a special Sub-Committee charged with the development and implementation of the program.  In announcing their appointment at a recent reception at the Bar Association, Diversity Committee Co-Chair Dan Clifford indicated that it was essential to the initial success of the program to tap proven Bar leaders to spearhead the initiative during its inaugural year.

In 2008, Fischer was asked by the Diversity Committee to observe the workings of similar law student programs in Dauphin, Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties.  The success of those programs over the past several years grew to include 17 students in Dauphin and 32 students in Philadelphia in 2008.  As a result of the Committee's research, the overwhelming feedback was that the best method of "growing diversity" is a strong summer internship program for law students.  Students who work in county law offices for a summer will establish professional relationships and often return to practice in those counties.

Providing considerable momentum to the new Bar program, MBA President Mark A. Kearney indicated that the leadership of the Bar Association had committed to the budgeting of scholarships to be provided to the students participating in 2009 in addition to the stipends that the employers will provide.  For the 2009 program, the MBA will partner with the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group in the selection of students.  The purpose of the partnering, Clifford and Austin explained, is to take advantage of a well established application process in a neighboring county, which includes only students who have been recommended by their law schools, so that the MBA focus can be on the recruitment of employers and the development of the program during its first year. 

It is expected that the Diversity Committee with also provide weekly programming during the eight week summer period to enable the participating law students to get to know about the Bar and to interact with the Judiciary and Bar leadership. 

Managing partners and attorneys should expect calls from Rogers and Fischer in the coming weeks and are urged to show their commitment to this project by considering a summer position for one of these qualified law students.  For additional information on the Summer 1L Program, please contact Jim Mathias at the Montgomery Bar Association.  Jim may be reached by phone at 610-279-9660.