DMBA Barristers and Miller Canfield award $1,500 scholarship

On Thursday, July 19, members of Detroit's legal community came together to congratulate a special Western International High School graduating senior and give her a tangible boost toward her college career. The Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association's Barristers Section and the law firm of Miller Canfield awarded Paola Camarena of Detroit a $1,500 scholarship during the Barristers' annual Summer Breeze event, which took place at Amnesia Nightclub.

The scholarship is part of the Barristers' School Partnership Program, which brings volunteer attorneys into selected Detroit high schools to mentor students, share their experiences, and encourage them to consider law as a career. The scholarship is awarded on the basis of merit, letters of recommendation, financial need and other criteria and may be used to cover the cost of books, tuition or other expenses arising from attendance at an accredited four-year university or two-year vocational or community college. This year's scholarship was funded by Miller Canfield as part of a three-year commitment.

Camarena was also the winner of this year's School Partnership Program Essay Contest, which posed a hypothetical and asked whether cyber-bullying should be considered a crime in Michigan. Camarena credits her attorney-mentor, Erin Behler of Nemeth Burwell, PC, for her success, noting, "She [Behler] showed me different ways to think about writing my essay and taught me how to do the research to make my statements stronger."

Camarena, who will begin her studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor this fall, hasn't yet decided on a major. She's ready for the challenge, however. According to her personal statement, "My career decision isn't final. I will keep an open mind and I will equip myself with a risk taking attitude in everything college confronts me with. Although I will enter college with an open mind, I will not enter it with a blank one."

"Paola's essay definitely impressed us -- and whatever profession she chooses, we know she will be successful," said Barristers' School Partnership Co-Chair Kimberly Yourchock of Jackson Lewis. "One of the main reasons I became involved with the Barristers was to work on our School Partnership Program -- and being able to meet, work with and support exemplary young people like Paola makes the effort extremely worthwhile."

The Barristers' School Partnership Program is an outgrowth of a program begun in the 1960's when members of the Barristers, which was then known as the Young Lawyers Section, started visiting Detroit high schools to act as mentors and encourage students to consider careers in law. Today, the School Partnership Program is supported by the generous donations of individuals and law firms throughout metro Detroit, as well as the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation and the American Bar Association on behalf of its Young Lawyers Division through the Fund for Justice and Education.

"Traditionally, the young lawyers of our Barristers Section have been among our most committed, most active Association members," said Mitzy Sharp Futro, executive director of Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association. "It was wonderful to have so many attend the Summer Breeze and be able to see what a tangible difference the Barristers are making in the lives of the Detroit youth whose lives they touch every year."

"We're particularly grateful this year to have the support of Miller Canfield," added Lorraine Weber, executive director of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation. "In funding this scholarship the firm has made a difference in Paola's life -- and has provided an example of the commitment that the DMBA and its members have had to the metro Detroit community for more than 175 years."

In addition to the Barristers' School Partnership Program, the DMBA Foundation also supports a variety of community support programs including: a pro bono mentorship program in conjunction with the Thomas M. Cooley Law School; the Detroit Legal Services Clinic, which provides free legal assistance to people in need; and For The Seventh Generation, which matches donations of services and goods to needy foster children in the metro Detroit area.

DMBA members who have been in practice for less than ten years are automatically enrolled as members of the Barristers Section. For more information about the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association and its Foundation visit: For more information about the Barristers visit: or call 313-961-6120, ext. 201.

Published: Fri, Jul 27, 2012