The Association Of Corporate Counsel, Delaware Valley Chapter Street Law Program A Success

Monday, January 31, 2011 - 01:00

On November 17th, 2010, the Association of Corporate Counsel, Delaware Valley (DELVACCA) Chapter sponsored a full-day legal program for 60 Overbrook High School students that was hosted by PECO at its center city Philadelphia offices. Volunteer attorneys from approximately 15 Delaware Valley companies taught the students about contracts, employment and copyright law through interactive workshops as part of the Street Law /ACC Corporate Legal Diversity Pipeline Program. The workshops were a follow-up to lessons taught by DELVACCA members at Overbrook High School during October and November. The classes included a mock negotiation of a sneaker endorsement contract for an athlete, the mock deposition of a terminated employee and a mock trial involving an artist who used the photograph of President Obama to create the "Hope" poster.

The full-day program included a career fair for the students. Volunteers from DELVACCA and Exelon/PECO were on hand to talk with students about careers as paralegals, legal assistants and attorneys who specialize in different areas of law.

Also participating in the career fair were paralegals from Ballard Spahr, PECO's vice president of government and external affairs, a PECO HR representative who provided the students general guidance on seeking employment and careers, and an Overbrook graduate attending Drexel who discussed Drexel University law programs.

"DELVACCA is very pleased to have been a part of the Street Law program and its impact on the volunteer lawyers and the students of Overbrook H.S. We believe that we made an impact on the students by providing a great day of programming and networking. The students were engaged in the process and so many of them show incredible potential as future lawyers - it was quite a humbling experience that we will never forget," said Alex Erlam, then president of DELVACCA.

The day concluded with a closing ceremony that included each student receiving a gift bag of goodies donated by participating DELVACCA companies. The PECO Legal Department gave Phil Beuchemin and Shanna DePow, the law teachers at Overbrook, a picture of the announcement on its Crown of Lights display at the top of its building celebrating a recent state mock trial competition championship won by the school.

Urmika Devi, an associate at the law firm of Duane Morris and current Street Law board member said, "I know firsthand of the huge impact a program like this can have. Thirteen years ago as a high school student in Philadelphia, I participated in an amazing Street Law program on legislative advocacy which, like the pipeline program, involved site visits and depended on professionals taking time from busy schedules to share their legal experiences and insights. I would never have started on the path to becoming a lawyer if not for that program. DELVACCA's commitment to sponsor Overbrook High School sets the ground for a new generation of Philadelphia lawyers."

When the DELVACCA attorneys initiated this program with Overbrook, they became aware that the school was achieving such remarkable accomplishments even though its teachers were teaching with a 30-year-old Street Law textbook. DELVACCA's 1100 members should be proud to be remembered for the 90 new textbooks that the organization purchased and donated to these very talented students.

Overbrook High School is an inner-city, public high school that faces tremendous challenges and a poor graduation rate. However, through its law program, the school has won two state mock trial championships and finished 11th in the nation in 2008. The school's law program has approximately ninety students.

For more information about the Street Law/ACC Diversity Pipeline, please visit ACC.