On Thursday, May 9, a group of Prep and Villa students joined Mr. Pituch and Mr. Moffett to attend the Erie County Bar Association’s Annual Law Day Luncheon at the Bayfront Convention Center. Former judge Al Benedict, a Prep alumnus, sponsored two tables allowing seniors from both campus to attend this event. The event offered Prep and Villa students a unique experience to learn about investigative journalism, contemporary politics, and the field of law.
The Erie County Bar Association is a not-for-profit professional association with member attorneys and judges in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The ECBA’s purpose is focused on “maintaining the honor and dignity of the profession of the law, of cultivating social relations among its members and increasing its usefulness in promoting the due administration of justice.” In Erie, they offer a Lawyer Referral and Information Service to the public. This year’s Law Day theme was, “Free Speech. Free Press. Free Society.”
The event started off with lunch. Following soon after, the Liberty Bell, Chancellor of the Bar, and Pro Bono Award recipients were recognized and then the event finished with the keynote speaker, Howard Fineman. Howard Fineman is a journalist, political commentator, and global editorial director of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group. He has decades of journalistic experience under his belt and has covered the past seven U.S. presidents.
The focus of his speech was the theme of the day and how law, politics, and journalism interact in the modern world.
“One of the most interesting ideas Mr. Fineman had to share was the developments of the freedom of speech and press with technology,” said Sean Hart, a senior at Cathedral Prep. “He spoke about how anyone these days can be a journalist with the power of smartphones, covering any type of story they would like.”
This, Mr. Fineman described, can allow local journalists to cover their communities in a way larger firms may not be able to. Due to this, people can more deeply connect to what is happening in their communities.
The Prep and Villa seniors who attended shared they enjoyed the experience. “The luncheon was a great opportunity to learn about journalism, law, and politics in the real world,” senior Michael Norfolk shared. “I walked away with a new perspective of how all three of these interact and how they have developed to where they are today.”