Law school graduates don’t always have the luxury of finding their perfect job, even before they pass the bar.
I wanted a job that combined my two legal passions – public interest law and large-scale litigation,” said Kaitlyn Parker, the most recent Bryan Cave- Concordance Academy Legal Fellow. “When I learned more about the Concordance Fellowship and how you have the opportunity to experience both of these areas, I knew it was a great opportunity for me for me.”
Parker will join Shelby Hewerdine, who has completed her first year, in the two-year fellowship program. Parker and Hewerdine are Bryan Cave associates who spend half their time on Bryan Cave client matters and half their time on pro bono matters for Concordance participants. The Fellowship is a partnership between Bryan Cave and Concordance Academy that provides a unique opportunity for a young lawyer to develop his or her skills as an associate at an international law firm and at the same time have the freedom to pursue meaningful public interest work and serve the Concordance participants.
Hewerdine began the Fellowship in 2016, and she estimates that between 80-90% of Concordance participants have “residual” legal needs leftover from before their incarceration. She says around 80% of the time these issues include warrants for unpaid parking tickets, failure to appear summons, and court fees. If the Concordance Fellows or another legal representative aren’t able to get those resolved before release, individuals are often shipped right back to jail over a parking ticket fine. These essential legal services will help ensure successful transitions for this underserved population including finding stable housing and employment post-release. Hewerdine says participants are always very thankful – to those with scant resources, even something like handling a parking ticket can become a very big deal.
Parker has always had a strong interest in public service. After graduating with degrees in sociology and criminal justice from SLU, she spent several years teaching in a D.C. charter school. She has also worked in a public defender office and at the SLU law clinic. The fellowship will give her the opportunity to make a difference in the participants’ lives and in the greater St. Louis community. “Concordance and founder Danny Ludeman are so bold in their holistic approach to reduce recidivism – I was really interested and wanted to be part of that.”
Nationwide, over 70% of formerly incarcerated individuals return to prison within five years. Concordance hopes to reduce that number among their participants by one-third by offering a wide breadth of services and interventions: education and skills training, legal assistance, workforce preparation and placement, housing assistance, personal and family counseling, substance abuse and mental health treatment, healthcare and community support through volunteer teams. Concordance staff and a diverse coalition of community partners provide all the necessary services and support to help participants stay out of prison, and ultimately, reduce crime and the detrimental effects of prison on area families.
ABOUT BRYAN CAVE
Bryan Cave is a global law firm with more than 900 highly skilled lawyers in 26 offices in North America, Europe and Asia. The firm represents publicly held multinational corporations, large and mid-sized privately held companies, emerging companies, nonprofit and community organizations, government entities, and individuals. With a foundation based on enduring client relationships, deep and diverse legal experience, industry-shaping innovation and a collaborative culture, Bryan Cave’s transaction, litigation and regulatory practices serve clients in key business and financial markets.
ABOUT CONCORDANCE ACADEMY
Concordance Academy is a St. Louis-based nonprofit that offers the country’s first set of integrated, holistic and evidence-driven services to individuals returning to society from prison. Led by President and CEO Danny Ludeman, the organization assists participants in three primary areas: behavioral health and wellness; education and employment; and community and life skills. The Academy starts working with individuals six months prior to release and continues assisting for up to a year after their return to the community. The organization is committed to restoring individuals, rebuilding families, transforming communities and advancing the field of re-entry services. For more info, visit www.concordanceacademy.org.