Helping to Build the Path Toward a Brighter Future
irmingham has the 16th highest youth unemployment rate per capita in the country, which has a significant effect on our city. Only 1 in 5 workers is highly skilled, and 4 in 10 workers are not involved in the workforce. Alabama is also 1 of 5 states where student debt exceeds the average family income. Many of us who own and run businesses here understand the impact the youth unemployment rate will have and aim to change this. Last summer, the Birmingham Promise Apprenticeship Program launched, giving students a chance to have more involvement in the workforce that goes beyond job-shadowing. This spring, nearly 100 BCS high school students were matched with 60 local employers here in Birmingham to give them a thorough, hands-on experience, our firm included. Through this program, students can not only obtain some insight into how the workforce operates but also get an idea of what they want to do after they graduate high school. As part of the Leadership Birmingham organization, I focused on ensuring that many of our local businesses were involved. I noticed that no law firms had signed up to participate, which I found interesting. Many high school students who are interested in law don’t realize exactly what goes into the profession or understand how other careers can intersect with this field. I knew this program could help students see all the aspects and possibilities of working in a law firm and decided to take action. After talking to the mayor and confirming this program needed law firms, HareWynn was the first firm to sign up, but we had to sit down to discuss our options first.
research and write legal documents, but we weren’t sure what having a high school student come in and intern would look like. Our attorneys at HareWynn sat down with another firm that was also participating in the program, and we started passing ideas back and forth in hopes of finding the best way to rotate the student through the firm. We wanted to make sure they could experience every position in each of our departments and see how it all comes together to run a firm and a business. When a student wants to be involved in the legal field, we want to open not just one door but many. In addition to the legal positions, we wanted to make sure our apprentice had time with our IT specialists to see the vital role technology plays in the practice of law. We also wanted to highlight our marketing department to give the intern a feel for what it would be like for someone with a marketing degree to work at a law firm.
The apprentice who joined us is Tracey Young, a remarkable young woman who is very talented. Tracey is a senior at Jackson-Olin High School with a 3.9 GPA, and she will be graduating this month with high honors! She is a very active participant in her school, being part of the National Honor Society, the senior class secretary, and president of the Future Business Leaders of America. However, like many students her age, Tracey is uncertain where her future will lead her, and that’s where the Birmingham Promise Program can help her. Everyone at HareWynn was thrilled to have her join our team for the past fewmonths and happy to give her an opportunity that can help her make decisions about her future with the utmost certainty. We want Tracey to know that, whatever it is she decides to do, there are people here who can assist her, which is exactly what this program is all about: forging connections and fueling a passion these young students can build on in the coming years. We need young talent in Birmingham because we know the next generations can ensure the city becomes a better place to work, live, and seek education. Last summer and this spring, the Birmingham Promise Programwas a big part of taking that step, and its success has shown that these kids are eager to learn. We are looking into a bright future for our city and, more importantly, for these students. If your organization has not become a Birmingham Promise partner, I encourage you to do so.
–Ashley Peinhardt 800-568-5330 • 1
As a law firm, we’re used to having legal interns or law students come into the office as law clerks to do
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