2015 "Open Doors" Program - Thurgood Marshall

This year's open doors program is celebrating the life and career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Between April 6 and April 30, the Open Doors program will send over 65 volunteer lawyers and judges into more than 60 high school classrooms in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington to discuss with the students the life and career of Justice Marshall, and to share their own personal stories of how they decided to pursue careers in the law.

A recruitment/orientation meeting was held in Minneapolis on March 9th. The Court was pleased to have so many attorneys and judges volunteer to participate in this program. The recruitment/orientation meeting included presentations by Chief Judge Michael J. Davis, Judge Donovan W. Frank, Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung, Hennepin County Bar President Tom Nelson, William Mitchell Law Professor Jim Hilbert, and Assistant Federal Defender Manny Atwal.

The classroom visits will include a power-point presentation about the life of Justice Marshall, which was produced by Professor Hilbert and his students. After the power-point presentation, the volunteer lawyers will talk to the students about their journey to becoming a lawyer and then engage in an interactive question and answer session with the students in each class. Students will receive, in a booklet form, one of Thurgood Marshall's most memorable speeches, and a Thurgood Marshall bookmark.

The purpose of this year's Open Doors program is to instill in students the important impact Thurgood Marshall had on ALL Americans, including themselves, high school students in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington. The program also aims to inspire the students to think about a career in the law, which might include: lawyer, judge, probation officer, legal assistant, law enforcement officer. Hearing the volunteer lawyers' speak of their journey will give the student the ability to imagine what it would be like to go through the steps of higher education, and perhaps becoming a lawyer themselves. The students will now have a connection with someone (the volunteer attorney) who has gone through the steps and can answer their questions.

After the classroom visits, the students will attend one of three assemblies to be held between April 29 and May 4. The assembly sessions will include a performance by the actor who portrayed Thurgood Marshall at the Illusion Theater's production of Thurgood, followed by and a panel discussion. The panelists will include, Hennepin County District Judge Lyonel Norris, Federal Defender Katherian Roe, and two young lawyers, Benjamin Kwan, and Lariss Jude.