Mid-morning on Sept. 3, all attention in Room 205 at Austin’s Woodbridge Elementary was directed to the front of the class, where lawyers Apara Dave and David Urteago stood at the whiteboard answering questions about their profession. Eager students waved their hands in the air, vying for the chance to interact with the special guests.
How long does it take to become a lawyer?
How much money do lawyers make?
Can you represent yourself if you need legal assistance?
Dave, Urteago, and dozens of other lawyer volunteers addressed a variety of student inquiries during the Texas Minority Counsel Program’s Networking through Service project. The event—the first of its kind for TMCP—teamed lawyers up to speak with children at two Austin elementary schools—discussing exactly what lawyers do and sharing about the rule of law. Ultimately, both students and lawyers gained knowledge from the exchange.
“We often talk about networking, and people go to wine receptions and happy hours and cocktail parties, and they don’t get to actually work together or know what the other individual is really like,” said Travis Torrence, co-chair of TMCP. “But when you’re working together on something that you have a common interest on, it’s definitely going to lead to good results. Not only do you get the networking aspect for the attorneys, but you get this pipeline project, which is so crucial to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.”
The Networking through Service project is just a small part of TMCP, which was created in 1993 with the mission of increasing opportunities of minority and women attorneys who provide legal services to corporate and government clients, and to expose those organizations to the legal talent found in the minority and woman community. The 2014 program, which is taking place Sept. 3-5 in Austin, will include CLE sessions, keynotes speakers, and informational interviews.
“This is a conference that people look forward to each year,” Torrence said. “TMCP is more like a community—a very inclusive community.”