McCarter & English, LLP and Citizen Schools Complete Fifth Semester of Mock Trial Apprenticeship

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Attorneys Teach Local Youth about the Law

McCarter & English LLP attorneys Veronica Montagna and Wilson Antoine present a certificate to Kaylah Hightower, a sixth grade student at Ivy Hill, who participated in mock trial. In addition, the Honorable Richard A. Nunes, the Chief Judge of the Newark

McCarter & English LLP's attorneys Veronica Montagna and Wilson Antoine present a certificate to Ivy Hill Middle School sixth grader Kaylah Hightower for her participation in the mock trial and 10-week legal apprenticeship program.

“We were very happy to continue our partnership with Citizen Schools for a seventh semester,” said Stephanie Cohen, McCarter & English’s Diversity Partner and member of the Women’s Initiative Steering Committee.

Volunteer coaches from the Newark office of McCarter & English, LLP, students from Ivy Hill Middle School and Citizen Schools came together on Monday, May 16, for a mock trial held at the Newark Municipal Court, marking the culmination of a 10-week legal apprenticeship program. The project, led by McCarter & English’s Women's Initiative, has existed for five semesters. Each semester, McCarter & English attorneys work with approximately 8 to 15 Ivy Hill students in the mock trial program.

During weekly 90-minute sessions, volunteer attorneys from McCarter have helped the students to develop writing, public speaking and critical thinking skills to prepare them for the challenges of litigating a legal case. During the mock trial, the students acted as the attorneys and witnesses for both the prosecution and defense. The Honorable Richard A. Nunes presided over the case, which was a murder case arising out of a fatal attack by the defendant’s pet Rottweiler.

“We were very happy to continue our partnership with Citizen Schools for a fifth semester,” said Stephanie Cohen, McCarter & English’s Diversity Partner and member of the Women’s Initiative Steering Committee. “We take seriously our promise to give back to our community. Thinking critically, analyzing and reasoning are essential in the law process. Whether or not these students decide to pursue law in the future, we hope that we are inspiring them to pursue their dreams and helping them to develop important life skills that can be applied in their day to day lives.”

Established in 1995, Citizen Schools is a growing national network of expanded learning time education programs for low-income middle school students. The programs engage students in hands-on learning after school projects led by adult volunteers and are supported by a staff of professional educators. The goal is to help students develop the academic and leadership skills they need to succeed in high school, college, the workplace and civic life.

Since 2008, McCarter has worked with more than 90 students from Citizen Schools through its after-school mock trial apprenticeship program. The alliance between McCarter and Citizen Schools was a result of Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s call for the New Jersey legal community to act as mentors for inner-city youth. Susan Feeney, a partner in the firm’s Newark Office, and President of the New Jersey State Bar Association, was instrumental in helping form the alliance.

This year, attendees included current City of Newark Corporation Counsel Anna P. Periera, Councilman Ron Rice, and Municipal Court Acting Chief Judge Richard A. Nunes, who presided over the trial. Participating instructors and jurors from McCarter & English included: Amy Klug, Veronica Montagna, Wilson D. Antoine, Sheila Calello, Lauren Ciancia, Mike Horn, Zane Riester, Michele Vanderstreet, Frank Kirk, Elina Slavin, John Tassini, Natalya Johnson, Daniel Beebe, Lauren Jones and Nnamdi Nwaneri.

To learn more about Citizen Schools and how to get involved, contact Jessica Fick at jessicafick(at)citizenschools(dot)org.

About McCarter & English
McCarter & English, LLP, established more than 160 years ago, represents Fortune 500 and middle-market companies in their national, regional and local litigation and on important transactions. Its 400 attorneys are based in offices in Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Stamford and Wilmington. http://www.mccarter.com

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Daria Hall
Rubenstein Associates
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