Mock trial demonstrates virtual learning success

During multiple pandemics, Deutsche Bank employee inspires bank-wide engagement with workforce development initiative for aspiring first generation students.

Joe Urso, a Vice President within Deutsche Bank’s Legal department, is working to drive collaboration and opportunity for underserved students in today’s new normal. The transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, paired with the second pandemic of systemic racism, has created new challenges for students, parents and teachers—with heightened impacts throughout low-income communities. As an NJ LEEP Advisory Board member, Joe is encouraging confidence and consistency with virtual learning for its students at Deutsche Bank.

“I’ve been a part of NJ LEEP for over 12 years and am so proud of our work. NJ LEEP uses legal-related programming to serve first generation and underserved students as they navigate high school and prepare for college. With the increased focus on systemic racism and the lack of access and opportunities for minority communities, it is important to recognize the work NJ LEEP is doing to fight these injustices from the bottom up. We are preparing the next generation of leaders. I’m so thankful to Rose Battaglia, our Global COO for Legal, for supporting this initiative and the volunteers at Deutsche Bank for contributing their time.”

Joe supports employees from across the Bank to volunteer in other NJ LEEP initiatives as attorney mentors, debate coaches, debate judges, mock trial coaches, mock interviewers, guest speakers, tutors, and more. For the past two years, Joe has coordinated mock trial coaching sessions, with last year’s session in-person at Deutsche Bank.

 As NJ LEEP pivots in response to COVID-19, he most recently facilitated a mock trial coaching session for 38 underserved, diverse 9th graders enrolled in the now-virtual 2020 Summer Law Institute. Eleven members of Deutsche Bank’s Legal and Compliance departments, serving as mock trial coaches, provided constructive feedback and exposure to diverse career paths to help students build the self-confidence students need for a successful transition into college and their careers. Attorney coaches also assisted the students in witness preparation and honing their legal arguments through the virtual session.

NJ LEEP’s Summer Law Institute concluded with teams of students competing virtually in front of a distinguished panel that included a Seton Hall law professor, New Jersey state court judges, and a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. This year’s winning team was Defendant 3, with volunteers Ryan Neumann and Kimberly Kelly of Deutsche Bank’s Compliance department.

This event reflects CSR Americas’ longstanding commitment to strengthening workforce development. Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, as a member of the New York City Workforce Funders collaborative, works to develop initiatives that enable funders to make changes at a citywide level.

Joe is also a valued member of the CSR Leadership Incubator, which equips emerging nonprofit leaders and Deutsche Bank employees to strengthen organizations at the enterprise level. This spring, Joe attended a timely discussion designed to foster meaningful conversation around the actions nonprofits can take to navigate the challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you to all 2020 Deutsche Bank volunteers:

Joe Urso Mary Breslin
Sarah Levitt Kimberly Kelly
Joel Caldwell Craig Wasserstrom
Ryan Neumann Sarah Schoenbach
Stela Tipi Diana Whitaker
Jacqueline Elson

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To learn more about NJ LEEP, click here.