Miami Law Alumna Creates Advocacy Program for High School Students

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Leah Storie, J.D. ‘07

Leah Storie, J.D. ‘07

What does every little kid want as a gift for the holidays? As an eight-year old in a small town on Christmas morning, Leah Storie, J.D. ‘07, couldn’t wait to get her hands on a new briefcase.

Storie’s path to law school became clearer several years later during a conversation with her professor as an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Storie was considering a Ph.D. in anthropology, as she hoped to be a voice to promote the common good. Her professor replied that the best way to help individual people on an everyday basis was by becoming a lawyer.

“That conversation was really transformative for me,” said Storie. “Lawyers can change the landscape of their client’s present and future.”

Law School Years

“I loved every second of law school. I was one of those weird ones,” she said. Storie chose to attend Miami Law because of its distinguished international law course offerings and her own personal ties to the city. After her first year, Storie interned with Legal Aid in North Carolina where she helped victims of domestic violence navigate the legal system. Her work with Legal Aid opened her eyes to the lack of outreach and resources for vulnerable people to have access to justice.

Throughout her second and third years at Miami Law, Storie honed her skills in legal writing and research. She fully immersed herself in the international curriculum and was chosen as the Editor-in-Chief of the International and Comparative Law Review, where she organized the annual symposium.

“It was fun to put the International Arbitration Symposium together because Miami Law supported our efforts in bringing some of the biggest names in international arbitration to campus.” The symposium ultimately led to Storie’s first job out of law school at the firm of Squire Patton Boggs, where she worked for five years. She later practiced at Kim Vaughan Lerner LLP, where she continues to be of counsel on a part-time basis so that she can share her passion for the law with high school students.

Advocacy Beyond the Courtroom

“Being ten years out of law school has afforded me more freedom to get back to the root cause of why I decided to go to law school in the first place,” said Storie.

She is currently the Director of Legal Studies at the Cushman School in Miami. She teaches business law and trial advocacy skills and coaches the speech and debate team. Her role at the school took on a new meaning after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018.

Amidst the fear, grief, and uncertainty that debilitated so many throughout the country after the shooting, Storie witnessed the zealous initiative of youth activists as they fought for gun control and reform in their own communities and the nation as a whole. “These kids were fighting for their lives in a sense. They were on the front lines as far as school shootings go and they weren’t always being heard.”

Storie identified the need in her community for a structured program that could provide high school students with the tools to become effective advocates, both for themselves and for others. The newly-formed and not-yet-named program challenges students to think critically about social justice issues and the ways in which they may advocate for meaningful change on a local and national level.

“I’m not here to create an army of little lawyers,” said Storie. “But I do want to send out a group of young people who know how to advocate for themselves, who know how to be persuasive, and know how to recognize and speak out against inequality and injustice. I’m hopeful that the students will take this role seriously and take the chance to create meaningful change. The joke’s on me, really, I’ve learned so much from these kids in just one year, it’s incredible.”

Storie looks forward to the future development of the program and hopes to choose a name that fully encompasses their mission. She is excited for the coming school year and plans to incorporate an antiracism curriculum for the students and faculty.

Storie is amazed at how much the HOPE Public Interest program has grown since her time at Miami Law. She also can’t wait to see what the next generation of young lawyers will bring.

“When I’ve attended the HOPE Public Interest recognition ceremonies, I’ve been completely blown away by how much the students at Miami Law are accomplishing before they even have a bar license. I’m just so inspired by everything that HOPE is doing. Your futures are very bright!”

Read more about HOPE Public Interest Resource Center