California Lawyers Association

Foundation Hosts Students for Capitol Visit

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March 2024

By Jeremy M. Evans
President, California Lawyers Foundation

Last month, 200 high school students from the Sacramento area descended upon the Capitol, eager to learn about the legal profession and the legislative process. The students heard from elected officials, attorneys, doctors, and judges. It was a tremendous occasion for the California Lawyers Foundation (CLF), the nonprofit arm of California Lawyers Association (CLA), and its California Law Pathways Collaborative (CPLC) program.

students at the California capitol

CLPC Chair Ruthe Ashley began the February 16 program and was our fearless leader, bringing the student Legislative Day together with all of the high school students, administrators, and professionals. The mission of the CPLC is to “Meet students where they are. Our law academies are hosted where students gather—high schools! Throughout the school year, our leaders educate, inspire, and preview what a career in law will look like for future attorneys.” Students got a chance to meet professionals, network with each other, and enjoy some hearty meals throughout the day.

While touring the Assembly floor, students got a kick out of seeing their school names posted on the information board. Much appreciation to Principal Clerk David Bowman and Assistant Clerk Taylor Martin for their hospitality.

After observing a live California State Assembly session in the morning, students went to the Secretary of State Auditorium for lunch and a presentation from Ruthe Ashley, CLA CEO Chris Nguyen, and yours truly about pathways in law. The students also heard from Rosielyn Pulmano, Chief Health Consultant for the Assembly Speakers Office, who helped Ruthe Ashley ask the student audience trivia questions for prizes! Next, Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Wood, District 2-Eureka/Ukiah/Humboldt, spoke about his career as a dentist and pathway into lawmaking, followed by a debrief from David Bowman on his career and having an impact in your communities.  

Jeremy Evans with Shama Hakim Mesiwala, Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal

The students then went on tours of the Capitol and the courts in Sacramento. David Bowman and Chris Nguyen guided students from the Florin, Richmond, and McClatchy high schools through the Capitol building. ​​Yours truly and California Court of Appeal, Third District, Associate Justice Shama Hakim Mesiwala guided students from the DeAnza, Jesse Bethel, and Luther Burbank high schools to the Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court, where Justice Mesiwala provided her insights on the pathway to the bench. 

The students then walked back with their tour guides to the auditorium for a panel discussion with Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas’s Office General Counsel Emelyn Rodriguez, Associate Justice Shama Hakim Mesiwala, and Superior Court of Sacramento Presiding Judge Bunmi O. Awoniyi to learn about the state of the courts and share their pathways to the law before parting for the day.

Thank you to everyone who made this day possible, including everyone I’ve already mentioned and Jen Navarro, Ruthe Ashley’s right-hand person handling logistics. 

The day at the Capitol with students fulfilled the mission of CLF precisely by providing civic education, which is one of its three foundational pillars. There will be additional opportunities for students in southern and central California in the coming months and years. Students will also be invited to attend CLA’s Legislative Day on April 3 in Sacramento. The CLF’s CLPC will continue to serve our youth by building the next generation of professionals in the legal field and beyond through experience, access, and the highest values, morals, and ethics.

If you want to give back, take action today and become a member of the “Founding Fifty” or donate to support one of CLF’s many programs and initiatives. Thank you for your attention, time, and resources. If you want to partner with CLF, feel free to get in touch with Chris Nguyen, CLA’s CEO and the foundation’s executive director.

In Your Service,

Jeremy M. Evans
President, California Lawyers Foundation
Immediate Past President, California Lawyers Association

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