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Starting today, local lawyers will descend on Philadelphia’s schools, hoping to gain access to as many classrooms as possible.

No, they won’t be looking for new clients – they’re volunteer members of the Philadelphia Bar Association who, along with some local judges, will be participating in Law Week by answering students’ questions about their profession. Attorneys and judges will be visiting area schools through Thursday.

A recurring theme of the week’s programs, according to Law Week committee co-chairman Michael Hayes, will be the impact of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which was handed down 50 years ago this month.

Law Week will run from today – the first workday following May 1, which is nationally recognized as Law Day – through Friday. The majority of the week’s events have been organized by the bar’s Young Lawyers Division. Hayes, a Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads associate who is a member of the YLD executive committee, co-chaired the Law Week committee with YLD chairwoman-elect Natalie Klyashtorny, a Locks Law Firm associate.

In conjunction with the anniversary of Brown, the theme of this year’s Edward F. Chacker Essay Contest, which offers $1,000 in scholarship funding to the Philadelphia student who pens the best essay, was the ramifications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 opinion.

Contest winner Jamila Ballard, a senior at Carver High School of Engineering & Science in North Philadelphia, will read her prize-winning essay at a naturalization ceremony presided over by U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro and held in the federal courthouse at 6th and Market streets. Bar Chancellor Gabriel Bevilacqua will offer remarks at the ceremony.

Sure to be the week’s highlight event, Hayes said, will be Wednesday morning’s invitation-only Brown commemoration at the Philadelphia School District Building, which will be held by the bar in conjunction with the school district.

Students from Masterman and Northeast high schools’ mock trial teams – both of which made it to the quarterfinals of the city’s recent mock trial competition – will present excerpts of oral arguments from Brown to a panel of local federal and state judges during the ceremony, Hayes said. The panel will then recite for the audience the court’s opinion in the case.

Later in the day Wednesday, roughly a dozen YLD members will set up tables inside the Gallery mall for several hours, giving free legal advice to all comers as part of its Law Fair.

Hayes, who has manned a Law Fair table in past years, said that most of the questions involve landlord-tenant disputes, family law, estate planning, Social Security and criminal matters. He noted that conclusively solving a visitor’s problems in the short amount of time allotted is difficult, while knowing what public interest organization to point the person in the direction of is key.

“Sometimes the advice is just you need to sit down and talk to a lawyer,” Hayes said.

In the evening, young lawyers will be stationed at telephones in the bar offices for LegalLine P.M., a bimonthly, free legal hotline run by the YLD.

“Because lawyers aren’t always held in the highest regard,” Hayes said, “maybe Law Week gives people a little bit of a different perception about what lawyers are about.”

Included below is more information on events taking place this week.

Monday: The naturalization ceremony will be held in the ceremonial courtroom of the U.S. Courthouse at 6th and Market at 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday: During the “Stepping Out for Seniors” event, lawyers will discuss with graduating students what obtaining a law degree entails. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Girls High School, Broad and Olney streets.

Tuesday: The Stu Agins Day of Service, sponsored by the Louis D. Brandeis Law Society. Participants will perform mock job interviews with, and give advice to, residents of the Rowan House, a transitional facility for homeless families. 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Rowan House, 325 N. 39th St.

Thursday: Juror Appreciation Day will feature remarks by St. Joseph’s University men’s basketball coach Phil Martelli to the morning’s prospective jurors. The event will be hosted by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts. 8:30 to 9:15 a.m., in the jury assembly room of the Criminal Justice Center at 13th and Filbert streets.

Thursday: The “Doctor/Lawyer in the Classroom” program will feature members of both professions discussing career options in their respective fields with local students. 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. at the Albert Greenfield Elementary School, 23rd and Chestnut streets.

Friday: For the “Lawyer for a Day” event, volunteer attorneys will be paired with local high school students and take them along to their offices in the morning. In addition, several city courtrooms will be open for participants to view the proceedings. The group will then return to the bar offices for lunch and remarks from several guest speakers, including Sixers “Ambassador” World B. Free.

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