On Wednesday, October 19, 2011, three HS&A attorneys ventured out to Los Angeles area high schools and joined members of the Los Angeles County Bar Association to serve as volunteer Dialogue leaders for Dialogues on Freedom. The roots of this program date back to the tragic events of 9/11. This program sends judges and attorneys to Los Angeles area high school classrooms to lead interactive discussions on the meaning of freedom as well as the balance between personal freedoms and security. Dialogues on Freedom are sponsored by LACBA in cooperation with the Los Angeles Unified School District and Los Angeles Superior Court.
For Jack Schaedel, it was an opportunity to connect with the larger LA community. “I get a charge from hearing young people get so excited talking about constitutional issues like liberty, security, and wrestle with how hard it can be to find the right balance. It was particularly rewarding when one girl approached me afterwards to tell me she wants to be a lawyer and ask me how she can pursue such a career.” Jack was also happy to spend a day in the shoes of his father, mother, sister and wife, all of whom are or were dedicated public school teachers.
Jennifer Tsao had a unique opportunity to hold a discussion with students at Wilson High School’s Police Academy Magnet Program. She noted, “At the beginning of the class, the students, who wish to pursue a career in law enforcement, felt very strongly that law enforcement should be granted wide latitude to keep safety and order, even at the expense of an individual’s right to privacy or freedom of expression. As we analyzed search and seizure hypotheticals, however, their viewpoints became more nuanced. It was an eye-opening experience for me to hear about what they considered a ‘reasonable’ search and seizure, and how that reflected each of their personal experiences and circumstances. I hope the discussion got them thinking about society’s constant balancing of order and freedom, and how it can be a slippery slope in either direction. I certainly learned from them.”
This was Martin Sullivan’s second year taking part in the program. “I’d love to do it more often. It is so rewarding to give students a brand new tool – a legal concept – and watch them use it towards solving real problems in the world and in their lives.” Martin considered it a privilege to teach and learn from the students at Belmont High.
When this trio of talented attorneys returned to the office to reflect on their experiences we were all reminded that their work with Dialogues on Freedom is directly in line with the fourth goal of our firm, “Give back to our communities through our skills, time and effort.” Jack, Jennifer and Martin agree that the act of giving is what helps maintain a healthy balance in their lives both personally and professionally.