The Long Island Nets, NBA G League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets, as well as the WNBA’s New York Liberty, have teamed up with St. John’s University School of Law to host a sports law summer program for high school students in order to increase diversity in the legal profession. 2022 marks the third year of the program, with classes being held in-person at Barclays Center for the first time. The program is supported by the Brooklyn Nets & New York Liberty Foundation.
Throughout the course, the LI Nets, Liberty and St. John’s are working with 20 underserved high school students who reside or attend school in Brooklyn, Queens or on Long Island. The students are participating in daily classes where they explore their interests at the intersection of sports law and civil rights. The students are also hearing directly from leaders in the sports industry and legal counsel at BSE Global – parent company of the Nets and Barclays Center – about various opportunities and career paths available to them in the legal field.
“We have a responsibility to use our platform to elevate the next generation of professionals,” said Alton Byrd, Senior Vice President of Growth Properties at BSE Global. “The American Bar Association recently cited just 14.6 percent of the legal profession are people of color, and with programs like ours helping to identify and offer students assistance and early exposure to the study and practice of law, we can reshape the demographics of the industry.”
In addition to learning about sports law and civil rights, students are developing negotiation skills in workshops and learning about the business of sports, networking, financial literacy, and college admissions through a dynamic professional development series. The group is also partaking in community engagement activities focused on social justice and will participate in a mock trial experience at the conclusion of the program.
“In a league that is made up of 80 percent Black and Brown athletes, the New York Liberty value the importance of diversity across all industries,” said Liberty CEO Keia Clarke. “This summer program is a commitment to build inclusive pathways that will positively influence the future legal profession.”
The summer program is part of St. John’s University’s commitment to continuing the work begun by the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights in developing a pipeline for historically minoritized and underrepresented groups to be able to get to law school. This year, classes will be led by Elaine M. Chiu, Faculty Director of The Ronald H. Brown Center of Civil Rights and renowned guest speakers include Mark Conrad, Associate Professor of Law and Ethics at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business and Taifha Alexander, Critical Race Studies Project Director at University California Los Angeles School of Law.
“As a law school located in one of the most diverse cities in the world, we recognize that we’re in a prime position to diversify the legal profession,” says Oliver W. Colbert, Associate Director of Admissions & Diversity Initiatives at St. John’s Law. “Early exposure to the law, and to the opportunities that a legal education can present, is an integral part of that process. For almost 100 years, St. John’s Law has opened its doors to a wonderfully diverse student body. This program is yet another way that we remain committed to being an engine of opportunity, particularly for the most traditionally underrepresented groups in the legal profession.”