Eye to the Future: SBM hosts Youth Leadership Summit this weekend


Jennifer Harvey is flanked by former Tiger pitcher Nate Robertson (left) and Tiger chaplain Jeff Totten. Robertson, prior to his spring trade to the Florida Marlins, recorded a video message for the Youth Leadership Summit.

By Mike Scott
Legal News

The State Bar of Michigan’s Young Lawyers Section is hosting its first Michigan Youth Leadership Summit this Saturday, April 17 in an effort to encourage area high school students to become future leaders and remain state residents well into their 20s.
The event will be held at Oakland Community College Orchard Ridge Campus in Farmington Hills. Sponsors also include the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association’s Barristers and the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association. 
It is the hope of the Young Lawyers Section that the Michigan Youth Leadership Summit will continue for a number of years and it is expected that as many as 400 high school students may attend this weekend, said Jennifer Harvey, an associate with the Harvey Legal Group, PLLC in Northville, and a member of the executive council for the Young Lawyers Section.
“With the economy struggling we felt that it was important to invest in the leadership of our young people,” Harvey said. “We have the principles in place to help keep our talented and smart young people here, and to build a sense of Michigan pride in them.”
The summit will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include a variety of speakers and activities. Ryan Hearst, an adviser for U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, and Madonna University senior and cross country runner Bryant George will be among the young professionals who will speak at the summit.
Michigan Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Bryon Harvey also will be featured, delivering an address titled,  “Call to Leadership.”
A number of local and statewide political and community leaders will also be involved.
While many of them may not be able to attend in person, such leaders as Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and area professional athletes will all be part of the call to action.
Each has taped a video message to the attendees, encouraging them to take advantage of leadership opportunities.
George overcame significant obstacles to become a cross country star and successful college student and will graduate this year. George had the opportunity to intern with three major law-enforcement agencies: the U.S. Marshal, the United States Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF).   
All three internships benefited him greatly and added to his experiences and familiarity of the works of criminal justice in the real world. 
As the oldest of three brothers, George tries to spend as much time as he can with his family and friends.
He enjoys going to church, playing his brothers in video games, and mentoring inner-city kids in Detroit.
More than 20 lawyers from across the state will be involved in the summit on Saturday, and many of them have been planning for the event for several months, Harvey said.
Farmington Hills criminal defense attorney Raymond Cassar will host a fun-filled “game show” at the summit that will be a take-off of a popular TV program. Cassar’s version is called, “Are You Smarter than a Criminal Defense Attorney.”
The subject will show high-schoolers how to avoid potential legal, professional and ethical problems, Harvey said.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Opolla Brown also will speak at the event. Brown is assigned to the General Trials Division, and is responsible for a courtroom docket that includes many major felony cases.
She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Wayne County Criminal Advocacy Program, which provides continuing legal education for criminal lawyers in the county.
“We want to show students how to overcome obstacles that they may face,” Harvey said. “We expect that the high school students who attend will have come from different backgrounds and schools so we want to talk about how they can equip themselves to become leaders.”
Another topic that will be discussed at the Summit is the importance of community involvement.
Information on a variety of respected not-for-profit groups, such as Habitat for Humanity, Detroit Rescue Mission, Detroit City Mission, the Salvation Army, and the American Red Cross will be shared with the students.
“There are so many opportunities here for young students and college graduates,” Harvey said. “We’re on the brink of a positive economic turnaround here in metro Detroit and we want to show these students about all they can achieve.”
The Young Lawyers Section, DMBA and Straker Bar Association have all been in touch with high schools and district administrators, teachers, parents and students in the past few months, promoting the Summit.
Posters, newsletters and other collateral have been mailed and passed out to area schools and youth and religious groups have been contacted.
“We like to think that law is the blue blazer of graduate degrees in our community,” Harvey said. “As lawyers, it is our job to learn how to handle stressful situations in our careers and personal lives and we can pass along what we have learned to young adults. Parents and teachers can feel comfortable about recommending this Summit to their children and students.”
The summit costs just $10 per student and it includes a full lunch.
Networking opportunities also will be abundant for students who attend.
Contact Harvey for more information at harvey@harveylegalgroup.com or call the DMBA at (313) 961-6120.