Louis Stokes Scholars Program
“Changing Lives, One Student at a Time”
In June 2012, the CMBA launched the Louis Stokes Scholars Program -- a pipeline diversity initiative. Typically, the program offers a summer experience through which college students interested in careers in the law engage in paid summer legal internships of eight-weeks duration at Cleveland law firms, courts and legal nonprofits. Scholars are provided with volunteer mentors who are lawyers and judges who agree to mentor throughout the college years. In addition, Scholars participate in group enrichment and networking activities through the summer including field trips to the courts and local law schools, public speaking and writing seminars and lunch and learn programs with legal community leaders.
The COVID-19 crisis necessitated changes to the Stokes Scholars Program for the summer of 2020. Because of the pandemic and its impact on the regular workday environment in legal offices and the courts, we were unable to provide paid legal internships.
However, we DID have a plan for those who were eligible under our traditional Stokes Scholars criteria and who were interested in participating in a Stokes Scholars experience this past summer. The 2020 Virtual Program included 8 weeks of interesting and interactive remote sessions scheduled via Zoom and connecting our participating students with outstanding Cleveland-area lawyers, judges, law school administrators and faculty, law students and Stokes Scholars Alumni. The programs provided practical advice and helpful information on a wide variety of topics including improving writing skills, professionalism and etiquette tips, networking "do's and don'ts", how to establish and maintain a strong mentoring relationship, and a law school admissions overview, just to name a few. Our aim was to provide students with an enriching experience, keeping them in the know and connected as they move through college and look towards law school and a career in law.
Planning is underway for the Stokes Scholars Program 2021. For more information, please reach out to Mary Groth, CMBA staff liaison, at email@example.com or call her at 216-539-5975.
- The Stokes Scholars Program received the Ohio State Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Program Award in September, 2014.
- The National Association of Bar Executives awarded the Stokes Scholars program with the Lexis Nexis Community Partnership Award in 2013.
- In March 2013, the Louis Stokes Scholars Program was named Best New Internship at The Expys Awards. The Expys Awards are presented by the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) and Cleveland Business Connects Magazine to recognize the best interns, mentors and internship programs in Northeast Ohio.
There is a need for pipeline diversity programs because the legal profession ranks last in the percentage of minority members compared to all other professions, a troubling fact for a profession dedicated to justice and equality. The Stokes Scholars Program provides the missing piece in the CMBA's pipeline diversity initiatives – a college program. The CMBA now has critical pipeline programs for high school (The 3Rs – Rights, Responsibilities, Realities; Cleveland Mock Trial Program and Stephanie Tubbs Jones Summer Legal Academy), college (Louis Stokes Scholars Program) and law school students (Minority Clerkship Program).
2020-21 Chair of the Stokes Scholars Committee: Brandon Brown