Eds. Note: Brian Rohal, Thurgood Marshall Academy's resident law professor, led this trip and contributed the following report.
[On Wednesday] 19 seniors went on a field trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, and then to a panel discussion and "mocktail hour" with a group of attorneys at the law firm of Fulbright and Jaworski. It was a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip in which the students met some highly influential and inspirational people. Some of the highlights included:
- Being greeted by Justice Samuel Alito, who also ate lunch with the students.
- Taking part in a discussion of the historic civil rights case of Sweatt v. Painter led by John Payton, head attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Mr. Payton is the same attorney who argued (and won) the 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the affirmative action policy at the University of Michigan Law School.
- Meeting and speaking with William Coleman, one of the attorneys who took part in the original Brown v. Board case in 1954 and who went on to argue many other important civil rights cases. Mr. Coleman, who has had a long career in public service, including serving as the Secretary of Transportation under President Ford, is 90 years old.
- Sitting in on a panel discussion with several successful minority attorneys who spoke of the challenges and rewards of pursuing a legal career, as well as general college and career advice.
- Spending an hour meeting several dozen attorneys of various backgrounds, including the current U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, who is one of the most significant players in prosecuting major drug rings in the United States and Central America.