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Balch & Bingham Hosts 12th Annual Susan B. Livingston Boot Camp

Balch & Bingham hosted the firm’s 12th annual Susan B. Livingston Boot Camp for Success on June 1-2, 2023, aimed at equipping incoming law students with the necessary tools to succeed in law school and throughout their professional careers. The program focuses on attracting promising students from groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession and from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as students facing other significant barriers to entering the legal profession.

Incoming first-year law students from across the country gathered in Birmingham to participate in the event. The two-day interactive program featured sessions offering practical tips and advice from judges, attorneys and law professors, a simulated law school class, as well as tips on how to maximize study skills and summer job placement. Participants also had an opportunity to network with both peers and practicing attorneys from a variety of backgrounds. 

“I am proud of the firm’s unwavering commitment to fostering a more inclusive future within the legal industry,” said Stan Blanton, the firm’s managing partner. “Our boot camp program is a crucial component of our service to the Bar, prioritizing the preparation of incoming law students, especially first generation students or those from diverse backgrounds, to make their transition into the law school environment more positive and a little less intimidating. Our goals are to provide boot camp students with practical information that they can use to make that first semester in law school more successful and with networking opportunities they can use when they enter the job market.”

John Banks, attorney in the firm’s Birmingham office and member of the firm’s Litigation Practice, helped organize this year’s Boot Camp, serving as chair for the event. As a Boot Camp alumnus himself, John knows the value the program can provide for first generation law students.

"Boot camp provides a meaningful opportunity to mentor students in a casual setting and genuine way,” John shared. “Several of the students were unfamiliar with the vast opportunities within legal profession. We were able to reassure them that it's okay not to have all the answers. We guided them, equipping them with the knowledge and insights they need, leveling the playing field with their peers. We were here to share the wisdom we wish we had known, empowering them as they embark on their 1L journey and beyond.”

This year’s class was made up of 24 incoming law students from nine law schools from across the country. 

 "[Balch & Bingham's Susan B. Livingston] Boot Camp program has not only equipped me with a glimpse of what lies ahead but also facilitated meaningful connections with esteemed professionals in the legal field," shared Dr. Robert L. Moore III, 2023 Susan B. Livingston Boot Camp participant and an incoming Ignatian Law Scholar at Loyola New Orleans University College of Law. "One of the most awe-inspiring aspects of this boot camp was witnessing firsthand the power of leveraging our skills to make a positive impact. The knowledge, skills, and relationships I have gained from […] [the Boot Camp] will undoubtedly shape my path and contribute to my future success as a legal professional. Dr. Moore further showcases his appreciation, "I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the organizers, mentors, and fellow participants who made this experience unforgettable."

Speakers included:

  • Stan Blanton | Managing Partner of Balch & Bingham and Chair of Executive Committee
  • Judge Shera Grant | District Judge, 10th Judicial Circuit
  • Judge Shantá Owens | Circuit Judge, 10th Judicial Circuit
  • Professor Bryan Fair | Thomas E. Skinner Professor of Law, University of Alabama School of Law
  • Dean Lynn Hogewood | Assistant Dean of Academic & Bar Success, Cumberland School of Law
  • Douglas Allen | Managing Chief Counsel, Deposits and Accessibility, PNC Bank
  • Jonathan Barry-Blocker | Visiting Legal Skills Professor, UF Levin College of Law
  • Katlyn Caldwell | Counsel, Environmental Policy and Litigation, Southern Company
  • Dean Cassandra Adams | Dean of Students and Community Outreach, Cumberland School of Law
  • Daryl Perkins | President, Master Solutions LLC
  • Freddy Rubio | Partner, Rubio Law Firm
  • Judge John L. Carroll | Retired Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Alabama and Former Dean of Cumberland School of Law


Many students who participate in the program go on to credit Boot Camp for Success as a driving factor behind their success during law school and as a young professional.  
“This year’s cohort was comprised of an outstanding group of incoming law students hailing from diverse backgrounds. Their eagerness to hone their skills and build connections made this year’s program stand out amongst the rest. We were thrilled to welcome them to Balch and look forward to witnessing all of their accomplishments during the law school tenure and beyond, said Brandi Russell, the firm’s Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Director of Talent Management.     

The program is named in honor of the late Susan B. Livingston, a partner at Balch & Bingham and former chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. Susan kicked off the program in 2011. To date more than 600 students are Boot camp alumni.