- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

For most teenagers, having a lawyer involved in their lives might spell trouble.

But for students at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, corporate lawyers in the classroom might point the way toward a career.

More than 60 juniors and seniors at Montgomery Blair enrolled this semester in an elective law course featuring guest instructors from the legal staff of Choice Hotels International Inc. The lawyers gave the students a basic overview of civil law and the career opportunities in the field.

So far, the sessions have been a hit with students.

“I have a bit of interest in pursuing law as a career, and I thought, ‘Why wait until law school?’ ” said Connie Sinclair, a 17-year-old Montgomery Blair senior. “It’s been a really good experience for me.”

The partnership makes sense, considering that Choice Hotels’ corporate headquarters is less than a mile from the high school. Yesterday, the company hosted a final field trip for the students, where they participated in a mock lawsuit mediation and a game-show quiz featuring multiple-choice questions on civil law.

Students from the course, which will continue next semester, also are eligible to apply for two summer internships with Choice Hotels.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s not a textbook type of thing,” said 17-year-old Yewobneh Hiruye. “It’s hands-on, and you learn basic stuff about law and what it’s like to be a lawyer.”

Yewobneh, a senior, said he was thinking about majoring in political science in college, but might change his mind after lawyers told him that a business major would serve him better.

“Really, the purpose of this is to open their eyes,” said Patricia Anderson, a social-studies teacher at Montgomery Blair who teaches the two law classes. “For most of these kids, what they know about the legal system is what they’ve seen on TV or interacted with. This shows them there’s more to it than that.”

The law class is part of the Human Services Professions Academy, one of five career academies available to students at Montgomery Blair. The academies serve much like a college major program, introducing students to courses that can help them decide what career path to choose.

Tinny Lee, a Montgomery Blair junior, said her parents had been encouraging her to be a doctor. But the combination of attending the class and reading Supreme Court law cases in her spare time has made her think twice.

“Ever since I’ve seen an actual lawyer, I’ve been kind of interested,” Tinny, 16, said. “It’s exposing me to a whole lot of stuff I didn’t know.”

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