NJLEEP (NJ Law and Education Empowerment Project)
NJ LEEP was founded 2006, in Partnership with Seton Hall Law, by Craig Livermore, J.D. and Legal Outreach Founder and Executive Director, James O’Neal, J.D. As residents of Essex County, New Jersey, they felt it necessary to bring the successful Legal Outreach model to Newark. Seton Hall Law wholeheartedly agreed. The NJ LEEP/Legal Outreach model has been called by the National Law Journal “one of the few diversity programs with a proven track record of long-term success.”
As the center of our early education Pipeline Program, NJ LEEP is a multifaceted program that exposes inner-city youth to careers in the law and facilitates four-year college and university admission. NJ LEEP empowers urban youth from underserved neighborhoods in northern New Jersey to perform at high academic levels by building skills through law-related, mathematic, and other educational programs; developing the habits necessary for lasting success and community leadership; and offering exposure to role models who have achieved academic and professional success. NJ LEEP staff and instructors are trained extensively in a high expectations student-centered pedagogical approach. NJ LEEP is an integral part of the Seton Hall Law pipeline diversity effort, dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal profession by exposing minority youth to legal study and skill building at a young age.
Seton Hall Law School students and NJ LEEP staffers visit over 20 Newark high schools and middle schools each year to teach classes in constitutional and criminal law. These sessions introduce more than 1,000 students per year to some of the most fascinating issues in the legal profession—engendering thought and discussion about fundamental issues of law, justice and equality. And some of those students want more. For those who do, NJ LEEP will recruit the most promising candidates for its five-week Summer Law Institute, its paid legal internship program in partnership with the City of Newark and area corporate and government sponsors, and the intensive College Bound Program which combines academic tutoring, law based curriculum, and SAT prep in a 6-day, 14-hour per week school year program. There is no cost to NJ LEEP participants.
The Community Law and Education Program
The Community Law and Education Program serves area students in 7th to 12th grade. Seton Hall Law students and NJ LEEP staff members teach 14 lessons on Constitutional Rights and the Criminal Trial Process to students in area schools. The program is designed to stir interest in the law among urban youth and also functions as a recruitment device for NJ LEEP’s Summer Law Institute and College Bound Program.
Since 2007, approximately 4700 students have participated in the Community Law and Education Program. Of those, 340 applied to the intensive Summer Law Institute and 158 were accepted.
The Summer Law Institute
The Summer Law Institute runs five weeks at Seton Hall Law during the summer (9:00am-4:00pm, five days a week). Students are taught criminal law and criminal trial process by Seton Hall Law students and NJ LEEP staff members. They also learn about the legal profession from practicing attorneys and law professors who serve as guest speakers. Students also take part in skills workshops and skills assessment exams, field trips to various courthouses and legal offices, and a mock trial competition overseen by sitting judges.
Interactive field trips include the Prudential Law Department, Sills Cummis and Gross, PC, the Newark Law Department, and Wyndham Worldwide corporate headquarters. The Summer Law Institute program culminates in a three-day mock trial competition at the federal Martin Luther King, Jr. courthouse in Newark.
The demographics of Summer Law Institute applicants and accepted students are telling: median income per household member is approximately half of the median income in New Jersey. The overwhelming majority of applicants and accepted students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
Students that successfully complete the Summer Law Institute are invited to enroll in the NJ LEEP College Bound Program. On average, 24 students per year are accepted into the College Bound Program.
The College Bound Program
The College Bound Program consists of numerous programs geared towards preparing students to gain admission to competitive colleges and to succeed in college. Students in the program make a serious commitment to their future. The workload is arduous and expectations are high, but the support is commensurate, and, as program history has shown, so are the rewards. In addition to Seton Hall Law School, NJ LEEP programming is supported by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, the Law School Admission Counsel, the Prudential Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, and more than 20 law firms and corporations.
The After-School Program is the school-year portion of the College Bound Program. It offers intensive high school core curricula after school academic support throughout the school year 6 days per week for a total of 14 hours per week (4:00pm-6:00pm weekdays; 10:00am-2:00pm Saturdays). As part of the school year program, students also compete in four moot court competitions per year at Seton Hall Law School.
Summer Legal Internships
Seton Hall Law and NJ LEEP have partnered with the City of Newark and area corporate and government sponsors to provide NJ LEEP students with paid legal internships during the summer. Internship providers have included: Gibbons P.C.; Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield Law Department; Latham & Watkins LLP; LeClairRyan; McCarter & English LLP; Columbia University Medical Center; Porzio, Bromberg and Newman PC; Office of the N.J. Attorney General, Division on Civil Rights; Patton Boggs LLP; Prudential Financial Legal Department; PSEG Law Department; the Newark Law Department, and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. Students prepare for these internships through an intensive 8-week program.
Rising sophomores in the College Bound Program take part in a five-week SAT preparation course. Of those enrolled, the average score on the first SAT Diagnostic Test was 1097. After completing the Summer SAT Prep Course, students scored, on average, 1438 on the actual SAT. The high score was 2010. The Newark average is 1185.
College Application Program
During the summer between their junior and senior years, students in the College Bound Program participate in a five-week College Preparation Course. The morning session of each day of programming consists of a Study Skills for College Success curriculum. In this course, students develop important skills such as taking notes from a lecture, outlining, active reading, analysis, comprehension, and essay writing. The application text for each lesson is taken from a college level Western philosophy course. The afternoon session of each day of programming consists of the College Application Program (CAP). In CAP, students research colleges and scholarships with staff guidance, write several drafts of application essays, and finish the summer with a ready college application.