Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category.

• Winners of the 2008-2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest

Martin Luther King, Jr.At a cerermony today held by the Kent Intermediate School District and GRCC to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Warner Norcross & Judd will announce the winners of its 4th annual essay contest for sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools. This year 325 students submitted essays, an increase of 90 from last year. 

The entries were judged by 75 staff and attorneys in our offices around the state. The winners were selected by three members of the firm along with two members from the community – Maxine Gray, a board member of BL²END, and Melinda Ysasi, the President of the board of the West Michigan Hispanic Center.  We appreciate the efforts of all of our readers.

We are pleased to announce the following winners of this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.  This year, we had a Grand Prize winner, a First Runner Up and two students who tied for Second Runner Up.  Here are their essays.

Grand Prize Winner  ($300 Savings Bond and $50 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Alexus in Mrs. Holt’s Sixth Grade Class, Riverside Middle School

Question 1:   In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous 1963 speech “I Have a Dream,” Dr. King emphasized peace, respect and equality for every human being.  His dream was that one day we would live in a nation where children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  Has Dr. King’s dream come true?  Use examples from your life experiences to support your answer.


            “I have a dream.” The powerful words helped our nation rise up and change people. That’s why we have the slogan “We are one.” Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted black and white people to get along and be one nation. He also wanted blacks to be treated the same as whites. That dream has somewhat come true this past November when we elected the first black President of the Untied States.

            For the first time a whole lot of white people must have voted for Barack Obama. About only 12.8% of our population is African American while white Americans make up many times more than that of the population. WHAT A CHANGE! So, therefore, that means that more Caucasians voted for the first black American President.

            There are some ways in which his dream has not yet come true. For example, Don Imus, a radio speaker, called the Rutgers Woman’s Basketball Team some racial slurs. Dr. King would never have stood for this. But the problem isn’t just whites against blacks; it can be the other way around also. Reverend Jeremiah Wright said racial things about whites too. This is not what Dr. King meant when he said that he hoped one day we would all be able to “sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

            There is another dream that still has to come true. Dr. King also had the dream of a non-violent America; we still need to work on it. Dr. King never applied himself to the belief that blacks needed to be treated BETTER than anyone else, just equal. We should always remember his words that “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”

First Runner-Up  ($200 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Malika in Mrs. May’s Sixth Grade Class, Grand Rapids Montessori

Question 2: “I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  What do you think Dr. King meant by this?  Thinking about his quote, why do you think hate and discrimination still exist today?  In what ways is love an easier burden to bear?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Quote

            Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is perhaps the most profound person in history. All though there are many others, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in love over violence. His way of thinking inspired an abundant amount of people. I’m sure you know who Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is, but if you don’t, he is noted for his eloquence in his ever so many quotes and speeches that spoke of kindness, peace and equality.

            When Dr. King said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear,” I think he meant that loving is easier than hating. If you hate someone you feel anger towards that person. If you love someone you feel happiness towards them. Which one do you think is easier for you, anger or happiness? Love or hate? The weight of hate is too heavy, but the lightness of love is beautiful

            Dr. Martin Luther King probably said that he had to stick with love and that hate is too great a burden to bear because that is what he believed. And believing in something great that can help people is far greater than believing in something that’s wrong and can hurt so many. We all should consider others feelings and we should try to treat others how we would want to be treated. If everyone believed in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ways, and truly followed them, maybe discrimination would end, and equality and peace would prevail.

            Agreeing with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is so easy for many to do, but to actually erase violence and practice love is something our nation should try hard to accomplish. If we all just tried a little harder we could really succeed. Even though there is still discrimination every person can make a difference. We know that at least one person has made a big difference. Imagine what you can do. If I, or anyone became even half of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was, that would be it’s own reward. And if our nation succeeded as a whole in sticking with love, that would be an even greater reward!

Second Runner-Up  ($100 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Deion in Ms. Gregory’s Sixth Grade Class, Harrison Middle School

Question 1:   Has Dr. King’s dream come true?  Use examples from your life experiences to support your answer.

            In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous 1963 speech “I have a dream,” Dr. King emphasized respect, peace and equality for every human being. His dream was that one day we would live in a nation where children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character

            I think Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous 1963 speech “I have a dream” has changed the United States for ever. If it was not for the Negros and Whites that gave up most of there free time to help protest to get people to change their mind about racism. I would not be in here with half these kids right now. Let alone I would probably not be here in this classroom right now. I am so honored to know that all the people that stood be hind Martin Luther King tried to help change the world. Because if we would of kept letting this racism go on we would not have the great African American president Barack Obama in office right now. Actually we would not have any blacks [African Americans] in office right now.

            I do believe that Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech has come true for me. But other times I think it has not came true at all. I think to myself sometimes what if Martin Luther King Jr. was never born. Would I still be here today? Would I have the great, caring, and loving side of my family that is African American? Dr. King has changed my life but it seems that it is not the same answer for others. When I go to school I see kids getting picked on just because of the color of their skin. Or after school I see 8th grade Mexicans getting beat on by other blacks kids. Just because that kid walked on there side of the street or at school the kid might have looked at them the wrong way. Maybe it is just because the other kid is white or Mexican and a black kid might think that the color of their skin is too dark or too light. When I see that kind of stuff I ask myself why haven’t they learned to love because to hate such more of a burden to bear.

            In other ways his dream has came true to me. Because my mother is white, but my father is black. When both of are families have get together it is great to see two different racist come together and just have a good time. Because when I see them eating together and playing games with each other or just even talking to each other tells me inside that his dream has came true [alive] . When I see that it tells me his dream has came true to not only me but everyone else. If all this racism was still going on I would not be here. Not only that I would not have this loving caring father that is so loving and caring that loves me so much.

            That is why I believe Martin Luther King; Jr.’s famous 1963 speech ‘I Have A Dream’ has come true to me, my family and many more Americans throughout the United States. I believe his 1963 speech ‘I Have A Dream’ has become reality. Thank you Dr. King thank you for helping change the United States forever.

Second Runner-Up  ($100 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Devontae in Mrs. Stein’s Sixth Grade Class, Westwood Middle School

Question 1:   Has Dr. King’s dream come true?  Use examples from your life experiences to support your answer.

I feel that Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. “I have a dream” speech has in part come true because for the first time in history we will have an African American president. Presidential elect Barack Obama has proven to everyone not just African Americans that with hard work, determination, and by the grace of “God” anything is possible. Though it has taken what will be 47 years for what I feel will be a monumental moment when Barack Obama is inaugurated on January 19th, 2009. This is what so many of our people have longed to see a world where we can be judged solely on our merit, what we as individuals can accomplish, an what I hope will be the beginning for us to a road of respect for one another. We have come along ways from being abused, enslaved, bought, an sold an let we survive. All people want a chance to be heard, treated equally, respected, an able to live in a world where you can dream the inevitable no matter your color an not have to be judged on the color of your skin or be put in this category because you just happen to be black. We as a people of all creeds an colors will stop the act of racism learn to uplift an help one another then one day we will truly be able to say Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A dream” Speech has definitely come true.

• Warner Norcross Announces 10 Recipients in Expanded Minority Scholarship Program

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP today announced that it has awarded $19,000 in scholarships to 10 minority students from around the state of Michigan.

The 2008 scholarship awards represent an expansion of a long-standing program designed to encourage diversity in the legal profession in Michigan. 

Now in its 8th year, the Warner Norcross Minority Scholarship helps students to cover the educational costs of pursuing a degree in law or paralegal studies.  This year there are two recipients in this program. 

  • Maurice Taylor, of Detroit,  is the recipient of a $5,000 law school scholarship. Mr. Taylor is a graduate of the University of Michigan – Dearborn and will begin his studies at the Harvard Law School this fall. 
  • Patricia Mata, of Sparta, is this year’s recipient of a $2,000 paralegal studies scholarship. Ms. Mata is enrolled at Davenport University. 

The funds for the Warner Norcross Minority Scholarships come from the firm’s Corporate Advised Fund at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

This year, Warner Norcross has expanded its scholarship program by awarding eight $1,500 scholarships to enable minority college students to attend a study course to prepare them to take the Law School Admission Test.  Studies show that students who take a prep course in advance of the LSAT post improved results on the test, which determines entrance into law school. 

This year’s recipients of the Warner Norcross LSAT Preparation Course Scholarship include:

  • Tina Alonzo, of Detroit, Michigan (Michigan State University)
  • Jeanine Anderson, of Chicago, Illinois (Grand Valley State University)
  • Sierra Hill, of Toledo, Ohio (Eastern Michigan University)
  • Markanetta Jones, of Wyoming, Michigan (Grand Valley State University)
  • Luis Lozano, of Holland, Michigan (University of Michigan)
  • Meagan Threats, of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Michigan State University)
  • Jovan Turner, of Chicago, Illinois (Albion College)
  • Jennifer White, of Novi, Michigan (Michigan State University)

“We are very pleased to once again offer scholarships in support of minority students pursuing legal studies,” said Douglas E. Wagner, managing partner for Warner Norcross.  “We are especially pleased to expand our program to enable college students who are considering a career in law to prepare to do their best on the Law School Admission Test. 

“Through these scholarships, as well as other outreach programs, we are working to ensure that the legal profession is open and welcoming to all.”

Details about the Warner Norcross & Judd scholarship programs are available online at

• WNJ’s Outreach Efforts

mock-trial-logo.jpgThe Society of American Law Schools reports that from 1992 to 2005, the percentage of African American students in law school declined by 8.6%.

This has occurred at a time when law firms have increasingly been looking to increase their diversity.  One way that firms have begun to address this is through outreach activities designed to encourage African Americans and other disadvantaged minorities to consider a career in law. 

At Warner Norcross we participate in a number of outreach activities. 

  • Since 2000, our Minority Scholarship program has offered an annual scholarship to minority students pursuing a degree in law, paralegal studies and legal secretarial studies. 
  • This year, we have introduced a new scholarship program for minority college students in their junior year.  This scholarship will pay the cost of taking an LSAT preparation course, which typically runs about $1,500.

Information about both of these scholarship programs is available on our website by clicking here.  If you know of someone who may qualify for these programs, or who may have a son or daughter who would qualify, I hope you will share this information.

Our outreach efforts extend beyond law school and college into the secondary schools.  There are two events coming up that we are pleased to be involved with.   

The firm is a sponsor of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association Martin Luther King Oral Advocacy Competition for high school students in Wayne and Oakland County.  The finals will be held in the Oakland County Courthouse on March 1.  Jeena Shah will be representing the firm.  For those of you who are unaware of the Straker Bar Association, it is a special purpose bar association recognized by the State Bar of Michigan.  The mission of the Straker Bar Association is to promote legal practice opportunities for minorities and women and to facilitate equal justice for all citizens in Oakland County.

For a second year in a row, the firm has been coaching the Grand Rapids Central High School mock trial team as it prepares for the Michigan Mock Trial Tournament on Saturday March 1.  Yvette Bradley, Madelaine Lane, Scott Carvo, and others have been coaching the team.  I am sure they would appreciate it if you would attend one of the trials to show our.  The trials take place at the Kent County Courthouse.  The students conduct two trials.  The first begins at 8:30 a.m.  The second begins at 11:10 a.m.  (They have a bye in the final round, which begins at 2:15 p.m.)  The awards ceremony begins at 4:45 p.m.

• WNJ Announces LSAT Prep Course Scholarship Program

wnj_icon_small_for_win.jpgWarner Norcross & Judd LLP is pleased to announce a new scholarship program to promote diversity in the legal profession in the State of Michigan.  To enable disadvantaged minority college students who have an interest in attending law school to be well prepared to take the Law School Admissions Test, the Firm will award five scholarships to attend an LSAT Preparation Course offered by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions

To be eligible for a scholarship, an applicant must be a resident of Michigan or currently attend a college or university in Michigan.  Applicants must be in their junior year and must take the LSAT preparation course before December 1, 2008.  Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher at their undergraduate school and must have a demonstrated financial need.

Details are on the application, which is available for download on the Warner Norcross & Judd LLP website.

The Warner Norcross & Judd LSAT Preparation Scholarship Program is one of several programs the firm has developed to encourage minority students to pursue a career in law.  The Firm has also established a Minority Scholarship Program, which annually awards $5,000 to a law student, $2,000 to a paralegal student and $1,000 to a legal secretarial student.  More information and an application form for the Minority Scholarship Program are available on our website.

• Volunteer Readers Needed for MLK Essay Contest

In connection with 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service activities, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP is sponsoring its Third Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest. The contest, which is open to all sixth grade students within the Grand Rapids Public School District, encourages students to think about how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.

We need volunteers from the law firm to read and rank the entries between December 26 and January 4.  Each of the entries will be judged according to a rubric supplied by the Grand Rapids Public Schools. If you would be willing to help, email Rodney Martin or Robin Keith.

All contest winners, including honorable mentions, and their parents will be acknowledged at the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Community Peace Program on January 21, 2008, at 12:30 p.m. (following the Community Peace March), and again at the Annual Celebration Program that evening at 6:30 p.m. Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.  The Grand Prize winning student will be invited to read his/her essay at both programs.  Warner Norcross & Judd will present the contest winners with prizes and certificates at the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education meeting the evening of Monday, February 4, 2008.