School of Law Hosts Legal Camp for High School StudentsWEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2016 - 11:00 AM
“It helped me understand that the truth can be hard to find"
Attorneys with the MassMutual legal department along with faculty and law students from Western New England University School of Law, and other local attorneys, participated as volunteers in the Springfield Summer Legal Institute. The program is sponsored by the Just the Beginning Foundation and was held from July 11-15. Thirty-two students from area high schools were selected to participate.
“It was hard at first, being a lawyer with lots of real lawyers watching me. I was nervous, but then I started to enjoy cross-examining the witnesses,” explained Iman Zafar, an 11th grader from West Springfield High School.
One of the highlights of the week was a mock trial conducted entirely by the students in U.S. Federal District Court in Springfield. The Honorable Justice Mark Mastroianni presided over the mock trial and explained the process step-by-step as the students conducted the trial.
“It helped me understand that the truth can be hard to find when different people see the same events from a different perspective,” Iman Zafar added.
“I learned how important details are,” explained Zachary Fernandes, an 11th grader from Minnechaug High School. “TV shows make criminal trials look easy, but they are a lot of work and a lot of details.”
During the week-long legal camp, students were also introduced to a variety of different components of the legal system as they attended workshops with local attorneys and law enforcement personnel, and learned about the justice system.
“The School of Law is proud to partner with MassMutual and Just the Beginning to give local high school students the opportunity to learn about lawyering and the law. It is essential that the legal profession reflects the diversity of the communities that it serves. Hopefully, a few of them will return to our classrooms in the future as law students,” says Eric Gouvin, Dean of the School of Law.
University Law School students Michelle Tsang and Anthony Huntley each led teams of 10 high school students throughout the week, helping them prepare their oral arguments and other presentations. By the end of the week, the Springfield Summer Legal Institute endeavors to give each student the resources and confidence to pursue a post-secondary education and beyond.