Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano is partnering with Strawberry Mansion High School’s youth court program for a student mentoring program. Each student is paired with one of our attorneys to learn more about the profession and the legal system.
Associate Attorney Kaitlin Files leads the on-going project. While in law school at Temple University, she helped develop a model for law firm support for youth courts through her work with Strawberry Mansion students. She adapted this model to create the mentorship program.
“The students in the youth court program are eager and interested to learn more about the law,” Files said. “By pairing them up with a professional mentor, they are able to gain a real-world experience about what it truly means to be a lawyer. Our attorneys will work with the students throughout the year and bring them along to hearings to show them the ins and outs of the legal system.”
A youth court is a program in which students act as the judge and jury to determine the correct recourse for their peers who violate school rules. Youth courts aim to cut down on the amount of students suspended and expelled by delivering alternative forms of retribution and promoting a positive relationship with the law. It is a growing concept, and there are more than 1000 youth court programs throughout the U.S.
At Strawberry Mansion High School, youth court is a class run by Evan Kramp, which is in its third year.
“Youth court gives them an opportunity to feel a sense of ownership over what happens in their school,” Kramp said. “The students are able to build confidence in themselves as they develop their skills in the courtroom as well as developing important leadership and teamwork skills.”
Files strongly believes that the lessons students in the youth court program learn should go beyond the classroom.
“I think it’s important for the youth to learn about and respect the legal system,” Files said. “By giving them the power to make decisions, it allows them to understand the gravity of how actions affect others. It shows them that they have the ability to make a positive difference in their school and their world. ”
Students will travel to Pond Lehocky’s Center City office in small groups for meet and greets with their mentors. There will be activities throughout the year with the students and their mentors to foster their relationships. To learn more about the Strawberry Mansion youth court program, click here.
Kramp is excited to see the partnership unfold and for the students to become immersed in a professional atmosphere.
“There is no educational experience more valuable than the experience of learning by observing and participating in real life,” Kramp said. “The chance to see firsthand the preparation that goes into a case, the people skills required to be successful, the importance of commitment and dedication, and the necessity of organization, time management, and personal motivation are valuable beyond explanation.”