This past month, Proskauer launched a series of Lawyering for Social Justice Workshops at John Jay College in Manhattan. Attended mostly by pre-law students, the workshops explore specific examples of how lawyers in private practice can make a critical difference in society. We discussed challenges within our criminal justice system, and highlighted the pressing need for representation in certain civil matters, such as immigration, family, and housing court proceedings, where there is much at stake but no right to counsel for those who cannot afford a lawyer. We also discussed the role of impact litigation and reviewed specific cases brought recently by Proskauer. Finally, we explored various volunteer efforts, especially those involving education.
It is clear from the high-spirited, interactive discussions at these seminars that John Jay has created a dynamic environment for learning that has resulted in large part from the great value it places on public service. Indeed, nearly half of John Jay students pursue careers in public service upon graduation. Significantly, the school’s commitment to social justice is also reflected in the student body itself. Here are just a few facts:
- 47% are first generation students.
- Over 130 nationalities are represented at the College; 33% of the students are born outside the U.S.
- More than half of their students come from families with a per capita income below the poverty guidelines.
- John Jay supports immigrant and undocumented students with access to free legal, health, and counseling services, and more, to help them achieve their dreams for college graduation.
- John Jay’s 500 + military and veteran students have an average GPA of 3.3 and an 80% graduation rate.
- John Jay’s Prison-to-College Pipeline (P2CP) is an innovative educational program that provides those involved in the criminal justice system and those who are incarcerated with access to education, mentorship, and community support to increase their chances of successful reentry and timely graduation and employment upon release.
Why are these statistics so remarkable? It is well established that the income capacity of college graduates greatly exceeds those without a college degree but that serious barriers to higher education remain. By making it a central part of their mission to serve vulnerable members of society, such as those of limited means, immigrants and veterans, John Jay is addressing a critical need. We are proud to be their partner in this mission.