Last spring, Proskauer launched a partnership with the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) – an organization focused on empowering Asian American, immigrant, and low-income communities in New York City. Continuing our partnership, we launched an “Advancing Social Justice Summer Teen Series,” where a select group of students took part in a six-week series where conversations addressed paths to law school and social justice issues.

Sessions began with lawyers discussing their unique perspectives and journeys. Panelists reminded students there are many different paths and emphasized the importance of seeking out mentorship to help determine whether a legal career might be of interest. They also provided concrete advice about law school and the admissions process.

In addition, we led discussions on the importance of advancing social justice, including, among other topics, powerful conversations on immigration, the Voting Rights Act, hate crimes, and criminal justice reform. Of note, we ended the series with gun control, featuring Litigation Partner and former New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo, who discussed his pro bono work with Everytown for Gun Safety. We explored the competing interpretations of the Second Amendment and its relevance today. Michael shared his experience on a high-profile case in Florida and, in doing so, explained the vital role lawyers can play in society.

Engaging students in the law and social justice provides valuable learning and life experience: not only did we discuss the historical roots of racism, anti-immigration sentiment, and criminal justice challenges, but also concrete steps we can all take to make a difference. Significantly, these discussions provided students who may not otherwise have access to mentorship the opportunity to talk with various legal professionals. Commenting on the impact to students, Shuk King Cheng, Program Supervisor at the Chinese-American Planning Council, explained the legal industry “is no longer intimidating, unfamiliar and out of reach for them!”

A special thanks to all of our guest speakers, who included: Carrie Slaton, Christian Palacios, Enyu Li, Erin Meyer, Ian Hurst, Lindsey Olsen Collins, Michael Cardozo, Monica Arora, Tara Brailey, Wai Choy, Bill Silverman, Alex Volpicello and Yang Ding. The importance of mentorship is vital, and it’s something that we at Proskauer want to consistently encourage and cultivate. We hope to continue our work with the Chinese-American Planning Council, and look forward to expanding our series to help students navigate and understand the complexities of the legal profession.