Youth Justice Clinic Alum Update

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Lindsey Spain

We received the following from Lindsey Spain, class of 2012, who is currently an associate at Thomas, Ferguson & Mullins in Durham, North Carolina:

I was elected to the Durham County Bar Association’s Board of Directors in 2014, and I knew that I wanted my time on the Board to be about more than just showing up to luncheons and networking with fellow attorneys. I believe that, as attorneys, we owe it to our local community to give back and help make our communities stronger. The DCBA has a long history of charity work and community involvement by providing scholarships to law students with Durham ties and providing Christmas gifts to families in need. For years, the Durham County Bar Association also sponsored a very successful charity golf tournament to raise money for various local non-profit organizations, but I suggested planning a 5k that could possibly appeal to a wider market of people. If you don’t play golf or have access to clubs, it is really difficult to commit to playing in a golf tournament, but walking or running a 5k takes little effort and no special skill set. Plus, I had developed a love of running after law school to help with stress relief and had participated in several races by this point, so this was an activity that I knew something about and would enjoy planning. The Board was supportive and enthusiastic of the event, so we started planning the Raising the Bar 5k.

In Durham, there are so many fantastic non-profit organizations that provide countless services to the Durham community, so deciding on a charity that would benefit from the 5k was a bit daunting. We partnered with Bull City Running Company in Durham in presenting the event, and one of the owners asked me if I had considered Kidznotes. I had never heard of Kidznotes until she mentioned it, so I did some research and was immediately impressed by the organization and their mission. If you’re not familiar with Kidznotes, they provide free music education to children in Title I schools in Durham. They supply each student with an instrument, 10 hours of music instruction per week, and opportunities for recitals and summer camps. Music has always been a large part of my own life. My parents afforded me the opportunity to begin piano lessons when I was 4 and later enrolled me in violin, voice, and music composition lessons. Music was, and still is, an outlet and escape for me, and I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without it in my life. When I learned that Kidznotes is opening the world of music up to children who may otherwise never be exposed to it, I knew that this was a special organization and one that the DCBA would be honored to sponsor.

The inaugural Raising the Bar 5k was held on Saturday, September 26, 2015 and had an excellent turnout despite the drizzling rain. Judges, lawyers, and community members supported the event by volunteering, donating, or participating in the race. We had over 100 people register to either run or walk the event. Several local businesses including Massage Envy, Tobacco Road Café, and the Durham Bulls donated items that were raffled among all participants at the end of the race. Kidznotes sent a trio of young musicians to perform at the start and finish line, and a local Girl Scout troop earned their volunteer badges by helping with the event. I am thankful for everyone who supported the race, and I am thankful for all of the work that Kidznotes does for our community. I hope that the donation raised by the DCBA will help further their cause.

While at UNC School of Law, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Juvenile Justice Clinic during my third year. Through the clinic, I became passionate about representing juvenile clients and dealing with the unique situations they face. Particularly, I became interested in thinking about ways that we can work towards keeping children out of court from the outset. A common theme I noticed with my clients is that their families were of low socioeconomic standing, and as a result, very few of them were involved in extracurricular activities. Repeatedly, studies have shown the importance of extracurricular activities, like music, in increasing a child’s level of literacy, performance in school, and overall confidence. Kidznotes is helping to break the barriers that keep children from low income families from participating in the arts, and in turn, maybe they will be able to keep even just one child from juvenile court. As Bono said, “Music can change the world because it can change people.”

Posted by Tamar R. Birckhead on Fri. October 2, 2015 8:45 AM
Categories: Clinic Alum Update, Youth Justice Clinic
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