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Senior Jonah Burns earns invite to meet Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Students attending the Summer Legal Institute in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Just The Beginning https://jtb.org/photo-gallery/dc/

Just this past week I was able to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience to go to the Supreme Court and meet Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was able to have this amazing experience with the organization Just The Beginning (JTB). JTB is an organization out of Chicago, Illinois that does many programs revolving around the legal field, primarily law. The message of JTB is “to encourage underrepresented students to pursue career and leadership opportunities in the law.” In other words, Just The Beginning wants to increase diversity with lawyers. I did their Summer Legal Institute this past June at Howard University School of Law. During that week, we met many lawyers and visited several Law Offices/Firms. These include Perkins Coie, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Littler Mendelson, Beveridge and Diamond, Holland & Knight, and McGuire Woods. The week was filled with everything to benefit someone in the business world; from leadership attributes to networking skills.

Just The Beginning has been doing their Supreme Court Day for quite some time now. In times past, they had Justice Clarence Thomas as the person we met. However, in the past years, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been the Justice to be met. The Supreme Court Day this year was on October 25th and consisted of about 60 high school students. These students were from all around the country. Multiple people from California, Illinois, and Massachusetts. The day started off at McGuire Woods, a Law Firm in Washington. We first met with several lawyers and had a Q&A about the legal field and law school. We also had two presenters, Katie Barber, and Matthew Fitzgerald. Ms. Barber was a Clerk for Justice Ginsburg and Mr. Fitzgerald was a Clerk for Justice Thomas. They both talked to us about what it is like working in the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Justices. We then left for the Supreme Court.

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Supreme Court Law Day is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for approximately 40 high school students from our summer programs, including senior Jonah Burns, pictured middle-right. The scholars enjoyed a presentation on the Supreme Court and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They also traveled to the Supreme Court for a private courtroom lecture with a Supreme Court guide and a private meeting with Justice Ginsburg. Photo Credit: Just The Beginning https://jtb.org/2018-highlights/

Once we arrived at the Supreme Court, we had a private courtroom lecture with a Supreme Court Docent. She talked to us about the history of the Supreme Court, how a normal court procedure is run, and the daily schedule of the Justices (courtroom wise). Fun fact, above the main Courtroom, there is a basketball court, making it “the highest court”. We then went into a private conference room and waited for Justice Ginsburg. Excitement filled the room the moments to her coming in. When she first came in, she said, “Welcome to my workplace, you may be seated.” She then went to the front of the room and named the person in every painting on the walls of the room. I was blown away by just how vivid her memories were. She could recall a case, a moment, almost anything and tell it with keen detail as if they happened yesterday. The Q&A consisted with a lot of advice and storytelling of her biased past. She included a story where she attended a meeting, gave a proposal, yet got no response. During that same meeting, someone else would say the same proposal and get praise for it. She said that people would “hear a woman’s voice and tune out.” She also gave her thoughts on women’s rights. She said that women are “making progress, not rapidly, but in the right direction.” She also gave us advice about dealing with adversity and who to surround ourselves with.

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Student participants at the Summer Legal Institute had the opportunity to meet Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo Credit: Wellandgood.com

Justice Ginsburg also shared with us her love for reading was her mother who took her to the library very often. Justice Ginsburg also told us what her typical week consisted of. She sits in to hear cases for half of the week. After the cases, she heads back to her chamber to meet with clerks. Her days consist of a lot of reading and preparing for the next day at work. She has a great relationship with her daughter and spends a lot of time with her as well. Two nights throughout the week are spent with her personal trainer, whom she has been training with for over 25 years. To end the day, Justice Ginsburg told us who she wants to be remembered as. She told us that she was to be “remembered as a hard worker.” and that she does not want to change anything she has done in the past.

All in all, this was an amazing experience doing the JTB Supreme Court Day 2018 and I highly recommend this and their Summer Legal Institute to anybody interested in the field of law.