Elon Law student Jeb Brooks leads initiative to draw young professionals into civic life
Third year law student Jeb Brooks moderated an October 28 candidates forum for Greensboro's Mayoral and City Council offices, and organized two forums on city government and economic development as part of his capstone leadership project at Elon Law.
Capstone projects at Elon Law allow third year students to apply legal knowledge and leaderships skills toward initiatives of their choice that benefit the profession, the community, or society more broadly.
Brooks' capstone project included the creation of two public forums at Elon Law for young professionals, one focused on the roles and responsibilities of local government and the second on regional economic development programs. His project also included planning and implementation of the October 28 mayoral and City Council debate in partnership with synerG, the young professionals initiative of Action Greensboro.
In addition, even though it will fall outside his capstone project, Brooks said he plans to help organize a 2010 reception for candidates who win mayoral and council elections so that law students and other young professionals can get to know their representatives.
Brooks said he chose his project because he believes young professionals can make significant contributions to the economic and civic life of Greensboro.
"Young professionals and law students have the energy to dedicate to causes we feel are important," Brooks said. "Many also plan to stay in Greensboro for a long time. It’s important for us to understand the role local government plays in the development of our community."
Brooks also noted that he was pleased with the success of the three forums.
"The level of interest in our events was validating," Brooks said. "It’s been refreshing to see that so many young professionals and law students not only understand the importance of local government, but are also willing to sacrifice the most important part of their lives – their time – to learn more about it."
Margaret Kantlehner, associate professor of law and director of externships, preceptors and capstone leadership experiences at Elon Law, said Brooks' project showed that law students could make real and significant impacts in their communities even before becoming attorneys.
"The capstone course is designed to help students take leadership roles that address needs within the legal profession or in their communities," Kantlehner said. "Jeb's work, bringing young professionals into the civic sphere, is a great example of the contributions law students can make through the program."
Brooks said he hoped participants in the forums would become better advocates for their communities.
"Just like success as a litigator is based, at least in part, in an understanding of civil procedure, it’s necessary to understand the way our local government is set up in order to be a successful advocate for Greensboro," Brooks said. "By taking time to get a sense of how our system works, what it needs and, most importantly, how it can improve, young professionals can hone the skills necessary to be effective advocates."