Pictured from left, front row: Samantha Wehrle, Madison Klope, Jenna Smith and Corinisha Barnes. Second row from left: Evan Buenger, Nic Harkey and Sterling Bram Coleman-Selby.

Seven local students from four high schools are the first participants in the Madison County Internship Program (MCIP), started by the Madison County Bar Association and the Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee.

"The program provides high school students interested in legal careers the opportunity to partner with volunteer attorneys for four weeks to see first-hand the rewards and challenges in practicing law," said Jo Anna Pollock of the Simmons Firm who proposed the program.

The following students are participating:

- Samantha Wehrle from Civic Memorial in Bethalto is partnered with Eric Terry from TorHoermanLaw

- Madison Klope from Alton High School is placed with Jo Anna Pollock from the Simmons Firm

- Jenna Smith of Granite City High School will be assigned to Morgan Scroggins from Scroggins Law Office

- Corinisha Barnes of Alton High School is placed with Brenda Baum at HeplerBroom

- Evan Buenger from Alton High is partnered with Ben Schmickle from Gori Julian

- Nick Harkey from Civic Memorial in Bethalto will intern with Jane Unsell at Unsell & Schattnik

- Sterling Bram Coleman-Selby of Edwardsville High School will work with Jennifer Johnson at Heyl Royster.

To prepare for their time with the law firms, students met Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder May 30 at the Madison County Courthouse. They were shown technology in the courtrooms, and Crowder discussed various legal jobs.

"It is a wonderful experience to pair high school students with actual attorneys so they can see the tasks lawyers, paralegals, information technology aides and others do in the legal system," Crowder said. "As a chair of the Madison County Pro Bono Committee, we thank these lawyers for donating their time to work with the students to prepare them for the future."

The next step in their orientation was a visit with Associate Judge Kyle Napp at the Criminal Justice Center. Napp discussed criminal law and arranged for the students to see a hearing. Their final stop before their formal assignments to the volunteer lawyers was a tour of the Madison County Jail.

The program began June 2 and concludes June 27.

The program is in its first year and has a goal of expanding in future students to allow more students a chance to help in law firms and learn about the legal field as they make decisions for future study, said Madison County Bar Association President Angela Donohoo.

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