University of St. Thomas School of Law students, Jabari Barner (3L) and Mariam Elrashidi (2L), attended the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association sponsored CLE; “Diversity on the Bench: The Importance of the Call to Duty,” which was hosted by Lindquist and Vennum on June 25, 2013. The event featured a distinguished panel of judges; Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Wilhelmina Wright, Judge Leonardo Castro, Judge David Piper, and Judge Manuel Cervantes. Jesse Bethke Gomez of the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection moderated the event. In addition to his introspective questions to the panel, the information Bethke Gomez shared on many of the factors the commission considers when selecting candidates to recommend to the governor was a highlight of the event. Both Barner and Elrashidi enjoyed the event, saying they gained valuable insights and added contacts to their professional networks.
Elrashidi said the event reiterated the importance of presenting oneself in a professional manner at all times because you never know who is watching you, who you might meet at any given time, or when significant opportunities might be presented. She went on to say that Justice Wright’s idea of setting a “standard of excellence” in all endeavors is something Elrashidi will remember from the event. Elrashidi stressed the importance of students taking advantage of CLEs such as this because although she had heard Justice Wright speak on several previous occasions, this was a wonderful time to formally meet and converse on a personal level.
Barner said he looked forward to connecting with his UST Law faculty mentor, Judge Leonardo Castro, outside of the classroom. Barner said he will remember Judge Castro’s thoughts for people who aspire to be appointed to the bench, students and practicing attorneys alike, that having a reputation as someone who works well with different groups and people to resolve issues in a calm demeanor is key. Barner appreciated Judge Castro’s willingness to introduce him to people such as Judge Manuel Cervantes, who took time after the event to discuss his thoughts on juvenile justice and family law with Barner.
Both Barner and Elrashidi highlighted Judge David Piper’s sentiments, saying his presentation was very honest and practical. His sense of awareness, his thoughts on juvenile justice, and how he approaches the issues presented in his courtroom were interesting, especially when he talked about how he manages his personal feelings and emotional reactions while he does his job.
Overall, Diversity on the Bench was a great event and a fabulous way to get involved with the legal community to meet amazing lawyers, judges, and Supreme Court justices. Barner and Elrashidi cannot stress enough how invaluable CLE events are and the importance of molding your legal career path from the beginning of your first year of law school. Take advantage and seize opportunities that come in your direction, you will be surprised and pleased with the experience and knowledge you have obtained.