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Undergraduate Academies reach out to budding lawyers

Chautauqua Institute

The Chautauqua Institution is the setting for the Undergraduate Academies' "Lawyers as Agents of Social Change" program for undergraduates interested in the law.

By EMILY FARACCA

Published July 25, 2013

“We provide students with an interactive learning experience that broadens their understanding of lawyers in local, national and global communities as agents of meaningful social change.”
Bernadette Gargano, lecturer
UB Law School

Court proceedings, exposure to the legal world and historic sights await students participating in the Undergraduate Academies’ second annual extension learning program.

The week-long program, “Lawyers as Agents of Social Change,” will take place July 28 through Aug. 4 at the Chautauqua Institution. Targeted toward high school graduating seniors and college students of all levels, the program will explore the role of lawyers in the community as they advocate for and participate in social change. The students will be accompanied by UB Law School faculty members Bernadette Gargano and Johanna Oreskovic.

“We want students to participate in the process of learning, to consider different perspectives from a variety of sources,” says Gargano, a lecturer in the Legal Analysis, Writing & Research Program. “Students will have the chance to focus on learning in an atmosphere that fosters creativity and reflection.”

The program began last year when Gargano approached Hadar Borden, administrative director of the undergraduate academies, with an idea to introduce undergraduate students to the legal world in a professional and motivating environment.

“She really wanted students to experience what it was like to be a lawyer in a real-world setting,” says Borden. “We don’t use the word ‘transformative’ very often, but students said the experience was genuinely transformative for them. They especially loved being surrounded by peers with the same enthusiasm and drive.”

Last year’s trip introduced students to legal proceedings and arranged meet-and-greets with lawyers devoted to legal justice on both a local and global scale. One highlight for the students was a dinner at the home of Francis Letro, a prominent attorney in the national community and vice chair of the UB Law School’s Dean’s Advisory Council.

This year, students will be introduced to the concepts of crime, punishment and public service based on the life of Justice Robert H. Jackson. This historical example will lead to an exploration of modern legal systems and their continued impact on society.

Additionally, students have the option to continue their study with Gargano in the fall for a discovery seminar surrounding the legal system’s involvement in the civil rights movement.

“We provide students with an interactive learning experience that broadens their understanding of lawyers in local, national and global communities as agents of meaningful social change,” says Gargano.