Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 33

SPECIAL SECTION
what's important to them. These are all kids that we hope one day will
replace us, " he says.
A PERSONAL CONNECTION
In 2009 Wright recruited D.C. Superior Court Associate Judge Kenia Seoane
López to help organize the program. At the time, Seoane López was
president-elect of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia,
and Wright was seeking to increase Latino participation in the Youth
Law Fair.
Seoane López, who remains cochair of the committee behind the Youth
Law Fair, says the D.C. Bar's involvement is critical to the program's success.
" We really couldn't do it without the efforts of volunteer attorneys
and staff from the D.C. Bar, " she says. During the program, groups of
volunteer judges and attorneys manage anywhere from six to eight
courtrooms to engage participants. " I believe that it's the collaboration
between the court and the Bar that makes this program so great -
that it's not just the court but also the legal community that's behind it.
Kudos to the Bar staff who do a lot on the logistical side, planning and
executing the event. "
Seoane López's involvement is motivated by her own formative experiences
with the court system. " I know that these programs work and that
they can make a change in someone's life, " she says.
In 1991 Seoane López was part of the inaugural class of the Judicial
Youth Corps, a project of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
that now involves the Massachusetts Bar Association. " The goal was to
get inner city public high school students involved in the court system, "
Seoane López says. Through the program, she spent the summer of her
junior year working full time at the Boston Housing Court.
" That summer changed my whole life, " says Seoane López. " Just to put
things into perspective, I had already made plans to go to beauty school
when this opportunity came up. "
The program's small stipend was her initial motivation. " I wanted some
money to buy clothes, and my mom wouldn't let me get a part-time job.
When someone gave me a flyer for the program, I [thought], 'My mother
can't say no to this because it's educational, and I'll get my money to buy
my Gap clothes.' So, I applied and got into the program, and the joke was
on me because I became hooked on the administration of justice. "
" I don't think, until that summer, I understood why my mom and my
family had sacrificed so much to come to this country, " says Seoane
López, whose family immigrated
from Cuba when she was 10. " The
ability of people to go into the courthouse,
to file cases without lawyers,
to be heard, to have an independent
person decide cases for them where
they could actually challenge their
own government . . . to me that was
just amazing, and I understood that
this is the American dream. This is
why we came to the United States. "
" But I also saw ways in which the system
could be improved, " she continues.
" For example, in areas involving
language access. I decided to go to
law school to make the system stronger,
and to preserve it for generations
JUDGE KENIA SEOANE LÓPEZ
D.C. Superior Court
to come so that the reason people sacrificed so much to come to the
country [would] still be there. "
MEANINGFUL COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
On March 16 Wright and Seoane López, along with other volunteer judges
and attorneys, will engage District youth on the issue of carjacking, a
crime that has drawn significant media attention in recent months, and
one that frequently involves teenagers. " We thought it would be valuable
for students to learn more about the laws used to prosecute carjacking
cases and how a case like that will play out in court, " Seoane López says.
The hope is that this type of engagement will spark an interest in the law
and the justice system among the new crop of participants as it did for
Mack a decade ago. After high school, Mack attended the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, earning a bachelor's degree in economics. In the
years after, he served as undergraduate liaison for the university-based
student group Law and Advocacy for Racial Justice, and then as legal
intern at Oasis Legal Group, before enrolling in law school.
Mack says his participation in the Youth Law Fair and other court programs,
as well as his undergraduate interest in racial justice and equity,
reinforced his perception that defense work could provide him with
meaningful opportunities to make a positive impact.
Lately he's also been thinking about the importance of jury pool diversity.
" We always hear about voting, " he says. " People of color are told every
four years [to] vote, but you never hear anyone telling [another] to participate
in jury duty. The attitude is that people don't ever want to do jury
duty, but participation from people in our community can have a real
impact on the criminal justice system. "
Having met some of his childhood goals, Mack is now considering what
lies ahead. " Now that I've been in court for a few months, I really do see
the impact that judges have, " he says. " In the long term, going down that
path might be something I consider. "
Judge Melvin Wright engages with one of the student participants.
Reach D.C. Bar staff writer Jeremy Conrad at jconrad@dcbar.org.
MARCH/APRIL 2024 * WASHINGTON LAWYER 33
H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H
D.C. Bar
Perfil Photography by Ron Rodriguez

Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Notice to Members
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Get to Know The Appellate Project
Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Taking the Stand
Worth Reading
Member Spotlight
On Further Review
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 4
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Notice to Members
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Get to Know The Appellate Project
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 36
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover4
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