Member Spotlight

Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation

This month, the NCBF Member spotlight features the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation (CMBF).
The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation is proud to support the Louis Stokes Scholars Program, a pipeline diversity and inclusion program of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA). The Stokes Scholars program, launched in 2012, was designed to connect our high school and law school pipeline programs. It provides paid summer internships, mentoring and enrichment experiences to college students who are interested in pursuing careers in the law and who are graduates of our urban public high schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and East Cleveland City Schools, our school partners in The 3Rs - Rights, Realities, Responsibilities. Stephanie Tubbs Jones Summer Legal Academy and Cleveland Mock Trial Competition. The program is named in honor of Louis Stokes (1925-2015), distinguished Congressman, attorney and community leader, who was also a graduate of the Cleveland public schools.

In its first 6 years, the program has welcomed 64 Scholars. They attend or have graduated from 17 colleges and universities, as close as Case Western Reserve University and as far away as Hawaii-Pacific University. 96% of the Scholars are first-generation college students and 94% have graduated or are on track to graduate with undergraduate degrees in 5 years or less. Currently, 6 Scholars are enrolled in law school and another 8 are seeking admission to law school in 2018. The Scholars are a vital cohort, staying connected and sharing their experiences, wisdom and support. Each December, the CMBF hosts a Scholars Alumni luncheon at the Bar Association.

In May 2017, we celebrated the first of our Scholars to graduate from law school - Brandon Brown, from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Brandon has since passed the Ohio Bar exam in July 2017 and is employed in the law department of the City of Cleveland. We first met Brandon in 10th grade in our 3Rs program at his high school and he participated in our pipeline programs from high school through law school. We are thrilled that he is a Cleveland lawyer!

Through the support of the CMBF and the generous Cleveland legal community, the program provides strong support to our Scholars and alumni Scholars. Each Scholar is matched with a lawyer mentor who helps them through their college years. The CMBF raises funds to support internship stipends for placements at the courts and legal nonprofits; law firms and corporations support internships in their offices. In2017, the Cleveland Cavaliers hosted an internship for the first time. Scholars also participate in group activities, including immersive field trips to the courts, a variety of law firms, law school, business and civic organizations. They engage in lunch and learn sessions, public speaking, business etiquette and professionalism seminars. The program includes social and networking opportunities and each Scholar receives business cards to facilitate their networking skills. There is also a Law School Admissions Boot Camp focused on the process of admission from creating an LSAC profile to LSAT to applications to transitioning from college to law school. Last summer, the Scholars studied the opioid crisis as a special project and planned and facilitated the Bar Association's monthly Hot Talk program in August on that topic. The program continues to grow each year and we are working on developing funds to assist Scholars with LSAT and law school admissions-related expenses. Quote from Brandon Brown:  "As I reflect on how far I've come, I am grateful for all the opportunities afforded to me, and the time that people have invested in me over the years. Every young person needs someone to invest in them. The Bar Association has created programs that invite volunteers to make a difference in a young person's life. I encourage all who can to become involved in some way. It takes a village to raise a child, by my village at the CMBA has helped me well into adulthood. "

For information about the CMBF and Louis Stokes Scholars Program, contact Mary Groth, Director of Member and Donor Engagement at mgroth@clemetrobar.org.