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December 10, 2020

More Maine employers to host diverse law interns

Black law student studying Photo / Tim Greenway U.S. military veteran Ambrose Dawson is a first-year student at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland. The school aims to bring more diversity to Maine's legal profession through a summer associate program launched with three law firms last year.

A summer internship program launched this year by Maine's three largest law firms and the University of Maine School of Law to "move the needle" on diversity will be even bigger next summer with more employers joining the initiative.

The Maine D1L Diversity Summer Associate Program got off the ground this summer at Bernstein Shur, Pierce Atwood and Verrill, each of whom hosted two first-year law students from throughout the country.

One of the participants this summer, Jireh Davis of Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, did a Pierce Atwood virtual internship from her home state. She told Mainebiz she hopes to get to Maine in person someday and "help pioneer Maine in the diversity and inclusion sphere.”

Seeking to build on last year's success, two additional law firms as well as two employers from other sectors will also host first-year law interns this summer as the program expands.

The new hosts include Lewiston-based law firm Brann & Isaacson and Portland-based Preti Flaherty, along with Jackson Laboratory, based in Bar Harbor, and Portland-based global payments company WEX Inc.

"We're very excited to be participating in this program and hope that it will bring great new and diverse talent both to WEX and to Maine," Hilary Rapkin, WEX's chief legal officer, told Mainebiz via email. "The program aligns with WEX's diversity goals as well. We look forward to meeting the many highly skilled program participants."

The initiative focuses on building a diverse legal community in Maine by attracting a diverse pool of first-year law students from across the country for a 10-week paid summer internship.

Participants will have the opportunity to experience legal practice and life in Maine, participate in professional development programs, and build their social and business networks within the participating organizations and the larger legal community.

The ultimate goal is to build a stronger, more diverse community of legal professionals in Maine, in terms of race and otherwise.

It comes as the Black Lives Matter movement and racial tensions this summer prompts growing reflection and sometimes difficult conversations around diversity and racism in Maine's legal community as detailed in a recent Mainebiz cover story.

More information

Applications for the 2021 summer program will open on Dec. 14 and be accepted on a rolling basis until Jan. 29, 2021. Find out more and apply here

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