2017 Hill Tucker Institute attendees with Justice Powell (seated) and Alicia Roberts (front row, right).
By: Latoya Asia
The Oliver Hill/Samuel L. Tucker Pre-Law Institute will once again present its annual week-long program for rising 9th through 12th graders this summer on July 8-13, 2018 at the University of Richmond.
Each year the Institute seeks to reach future lawyers by exposing them to several elements of the legal system which include: simulated law classes, trial advocacy, mock trials, and interacting with civil and criminal attorneys. Additionally, students are exposed to college life for an entire week while living in the dorms at the University of Richmond, as well as through college admissions seminars and mock panels. The 2017 program proved to be another success in exposing minority students across the Commonwealth and beyond to the field of law.
The Institute features a robust week of programming. Students enjoy a guided tour of the Virginia Capitol building and state and federal courthouses in Richmond. In 2017, the participants engaged in an exclusive question and answer experience with The Honorable Justice Cleo Powell. The week’s programming also includes an evening networking reception at the University of Richmond Law School Atrium where the students mix and mingle with local practitioners. Admissions representatives from several Virginia colleges and universities attend the Institute and review the college admissions process and offer helpful advice for the students with the goal of gaining admission to law school. Attorney volunteers come and discuss the array of legal practice areas and the many paths to a successful legal career during a very candid career panel. The students even complete a session on etiquette to prepare for the many business lunches and dinners to come in their future. The week is topped off with a closing banquet featuring renowned keynote speakers. Last year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Dietra Trent, Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia (2017).
While managing this robust programming schedule, the students prepare for a mock trial competition throughout the week. Daily workshops provided an introduction to basic trial advocacy skills, such as opening and closing statements, as well as direct and cross examination. Last year, the Hon. Manuel Capsalis and the Hon. Michael Lindner of the Fairfax County General District Court reinforced the students’ knowledge base with a special session on trial advocacy from the perspective of the bench.
Above all, the Institute represents opportunity. Mssrs. Oliver Hill and Samuel Tucker labored to ensure that each participant can not only have a seat at the table, but that they are equipped and emboldened to bring their own chairs. The HTI Class of 2017 were especially fortunate to have the Honorable David Eugene Cheek, Jr. from the Richmond General District Court share his personal reflections from working alongside Mr. Hill and Mr. Tucker and imparting upon each student the important legacy of these civil rights pioneers.
We recognize that five days alone is insufficient to completely summarize the entire practice of law. However, we are confident that the Hill Tucker Pre-law Institute lights a fire of curiosity in each student that we think will continue to burn and grow for years to come.
To volunteer at the 2018 Hill Tucker Institute and for questions, contact this year’s HTI directors, Courtney Frazier and Wesley Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org . We need volunteers to serve as mock trial judges and participants, instructors, and speakers throughout the week long program.
Latoya Asia is an Assistant General Counsel at ETRADE in Arlington. She was also Chair of the Diversity Conference in the 2016-2017 bar year.