Stokes Scholars

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 through which college students engage in paid summer legal internships of eight-week duration -- at Cleveland law firms, courts and legal nonprofits.

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 need for pipeline diversity programs because the legal profession ranks last in the percentage of minority members compared to all other professions a troubling statistic 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 will have 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, Judicial Externship Program). 

Participating students, known as Stokes Scholars, must be graduates of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District or East Cleveland Municipal School District and enrolled in college or scheduled to begin college in the fall following the summer program.   At each firm, court and legal nonprofit employer, students are matched with an attorney-mentor, known as a Stokes Scholar Mentor.  Mentors ensure the experience provides a good introduction into the profession and also provide career counseling.  Stokes Scholar Mentors are encouraged to continue to serve as a resource for their interns after the summer ends.

A key component of the Stokes Scholars Program is large group activities during which the interns and their mentors participate in enrichment and social activities, including visits to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and Chief Judge Solomon Oliver, the Eighth District Court of Appeals of Ohio and Chief Judge Patricia Ann Blackmon, and to the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Dean Craig Boise.  Stokes Scholars also benefit from a writing workshop facilitated by the Cleveland Law Library and “Lunch and Learn” sessions at the CMBA with local leaders and attorneys as speakers, giving the Scholars the opportunity to meet and mingle with law students participating in the CMBA’s Minority Clerkship Program.

In 2012 and 2013, a total of 35 Stokes Scholars were provided with internships at the following law firms, courts, and legal nonprofits: McDonald Hopkins LLC; Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.; Squire Sanders LLP; Thompson Hine LLP; Tucker Ellis LP; Ulmer Berne LLP; Walter | Haverfield LLP; Zukerman Daiker & Lear Co. LPA; the Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County; Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court; the Juvenile Court GAL Project; the Cleveland Municipal Court; the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland; and the Cleveland Law Library and the CMBA. Additional internship opportunities at other area law firms and corporations will be pursued for the 2014 summer and beyond.

The Louis Stokes Scholars Program is named to honor Louis Stokes, a CMBA member and attorney with the law firm of Squire Sanders.  He is a former Congressman who represented the Cleveland area for over three decades (’68-’99) and the first African-American elected to Congress from Ohio. He and his brother Carl, the first African-American elected mayor of a major city, rose to the heights of political power from humble beginnings as residents of Cleveland’s Outhwaite public housing projects.  A graduate of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Louis Stokes, our "living Civil Rights icon," is the recipient of numerous awards for his public and community service, as well as for the practice of law. 

For more information about the Stokes Scholars Program, please contact Mary Groth, Director of Development & Community Programs. 





No Pic 

Ashley M. Edwards  


Paul W. Smith


URS Corporation 



Bonezzi Switzer 

Polito & Hupp Co. L.P.A. 


To be eligible for the Stokes Scholars Program, students must be: 1) graduates of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District or East Cleveland Municipal School District, AND 2) currently enrolled in college or scheduled to begin college in the fall following the summer program.  Aspiring Stokes Scholars are asked to complete an application and participate in personal interviews.

Click here for the 2015 Stokes Scholars Application  - due March 20, 2015.  

The CMBA thanks the following donors and supporters of the Louis Stokes Scholars Program:

  • Attorney Admission Fund, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • Baker Hostetler LLP
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation
  • Forest City Enterprises, Inc.
  • Rev. Edward T. Haggins
  • Jones Day
  • McDonald Hopkins LLC
  • Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak Stewart P.C.
  • Squire Sanders (US) LLP
  • Louis Stokes
  • Carter Strang
  • Thompson Hine LLP
  • Tucker Ellis LLP
  • Ulmer Berne LLP
  • Walter & Haverfield LLP
  • Zukerman Daiker & Lear Co. LPA

Field Trip/Group Experience Sites:

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Dean Lawrence Mitchell
Ayesha Bell Hardaway
Tonya Phillips

Court of Common Pleas &   Eighth District Court of Appeals

Greg Popovich
Christopher Russ

URS Corporation

Ashley Edwards

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio

Judge Solomon Oliver
Judge Dan Polster
Melanie Walsh

Lunch & Learn Speakers, Writing and Public Speaking Advisors

Patrice Blakemore, Blakemore Coaching 
Gwen A. Buckley, Special Agent, F.B.I.
Kathleen M. Dugan, Cleveland Law Library
Anne Owings Ford, McDonald Hopkins LLC
Marlon Primes, U.S. Attorney’s Office 

Supporters of the Louis Stokes Scholars Program's mission are encouraged to contribute to the program in the following ways:

  1. Become a donor: A donation of $1800 provides funding for one summer internship opportunity at the courts or with a legal nonprofit such as The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, although donors may contribute to the Stokes Scholars Fund at a variety of Internship Supporting Levels.  Contributions to the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation are tax deductible to the extent permitted by the law.  To donate, please contact Mary Groth, Director of Development & Community Programs.
  2. Become a mentor: Supporters of the Stokes Scholars Program may also participate as an employer of a Stokes Scholar during the summer of 2014.  To sign up, please contact Mary Groth, Director of Development & Community Programs.