April 3, 2015
Nationwide received the 2015 Excellence in Service Award at Street Law’s Awards Dinner on April 29, 2015, in Washington, DC. The Excellence in Service Award recognizes the volunteer efforts of companies and law firms that provide exceptional community service in the form of a Street Law program. Pat Hatler, executive vice president and chief legal and governance officer at Nationwide, accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Nationwide participates in Street Law’s Corporate Legal Diversity Pipeline Program, where they work to encourage young people of color to pursue legal careers by providing them with role models, career education, and hands-on experiences in the legal field.
The legal department at Nationwide launched its Legal Diversity Pipeline Program in 2011 at Columbus International High School. In its inaugural year, an enthusiastic volunteer team of attorneys and legal professionals visited the classroom to teach about employment law, contracts, torts, and cyberbullying. For the program’s culminating event—a field trip to Nationwide’s Columbus, OH, headquarters—75 students participated in interactive workshops to expand their legal knowledge and career fair activities to learn about different career paths in the field of law. The Nationwide team created a truly immersive and impressive experience for the students. The program was punctuated by a speech from Pat Hatler, which inspired the young people and further demonstrated the company’s commitment to the program.
The success of their first year of participation, spurred them to expand. In 2012, Nationwide started additional program sites in Columbus; Scottsdale, AZ; and Des Moines, IA.
In 2013, the Columbus team added a mock trial component as a way to engage further with the most interested and excited students. Each year they select a Street Law-developed mock trial and recruit attorneys from Nationwide and a partner law firm, Bricker & Eckler, to serve as coaches and judges. Students are divided into plaintiff and defense teams and assigned roles as attorneys and witnesses. The coaches visit the school to help the students prepare their case. The students then spend half-a-day in Bricker & Eckler’s authentic mock courtroom conducting the trial. In addition to developing important civic skills, students learn about networking and are encouraged to use the attorneys as future contacts.
Perhaps the impact of Nationwide’s exemplary Street Law program can best be summarized in the words of the classroom teachers who worked directly with them:
- “You made my students feel like the ‘Dream Team.’ You let them see a world they did not know existed and put wonderful ideas in their heads.”
- “They were totally amazed at how many wonderful people cared about them and shared their time and enthusiasm.”
- “I know some students probably rarely see adults who give back to the community and reach out like all of you did.”
Nationwide’s work with Street Law is an important part of their On Your Side promise to the communities they serve. In addition to the hands-on contributions and volunteerism of Nationwide associates across the country, the Nationwide Foundation has provided more than $310 million in grants and donations to community organizations over the last 10 years.
(Reproduced with permission)
Corporate Legal Diversity Pipeline Program