Posted by: Jarod Word on Nov 1, 2020

Journal Issue Date: Nov/Dec 2020

Journal Name: Vol. 56 No. 9

Last November, the Tennessee Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section and the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law (LMU Law) collaborated in the school and organization’s first Crim Law Day — a program designed to offer law students a glimpse into the daily life of a criminal law practitioner. The program, orchestrated by Criminal Justice Section Vice Chair and LMU Law Professor Melanie Reid, was a great success with both the students and lawyers enjoying the experience.

Participants in the afternoon session of Crim Law Day 2019 were (front row, from left) Leslie Price, Barry Staubus, Lauren Williams and Melanie Reid; and (back row) Cody Fox, John Gill, Samantha Simpson and Aaron Kimsey. The event was held at  Lincoln Memorial University School of Law on Nov. 15, 2019.  Photos by Jarod Word.

Because of last year’s tremendously successful program, this year’s event has grown to include the University of Tennessee College of Law. The collaboration between law schools has led to the participation of around 30 lawyers and judges, and approximately 250 students. A growing initiative, the Criminal Justice Section plans to expand and offer these forums to the remaining Tennessee law schools in the near future.

“The program was created because law school prepares students to ‘think like a lawyer’ and teaches them legal theory and the fundamentals of criminal law and procedure,” Professor Reid said, “but students also need to get excited about the profession of law. The students have a strong desire to learn from daily practitioners in the field. The TBA — particularly the Criminal Justice Section — is an excellent organization to facilitate such a program and be the bridge between theory and practice by offering such student-lawyer exchanges.”

Providing these emerging lawyers with such initiatives is crucial to their development and building a robust bar. The hope is for these relationships to flourish and build natural mentorships among participants. 

“This program allows them to connect with practitioners, and the small group setting allows them to ask those questions they might not otherwise feel comfortable asking,” Reid said. 

“Students want to learn about the profession, and having a mentor for the day to reach out to and have a conversation with about what criminal practice is really like means a lot to them.” 

This  year’s Crim Law Day event will take place virtually via Zoom on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

— Jarod Word