The Akins Eagle Aid Clinic was established in 2017 by Armin Salek and the 2017-2018 Legal Eagles (pictured to the right). The students drafted the legal documents to form the non-profit under Salek's supervision, and began supporting the needs of faculty and students at Akins High School. The students learned about confidentiality, conducted intake, and prepared legal documents through pro bono service to the community. The students simultaneously learned about legal research, effective legal writing, the rules of evidence, and courtroom advocacy. The dedication and compassion demonstrated by this first group of Eagle Aid interns proved that high school students were ready for the intellectual and emotional challenges of legal service. Because of the unique opportunities provided at Akins, the Dell Legal Diversity Committee agreed to serve as a leading sponsor for Eagle Aid.
The 2018-2019 Legal Eagles continued to serve the South Austin community by advising clients on immigration, family law, and probate matters. They also secured the title of Central Texas Mock Trial Champions after demonstrating their advocacy skills in the courtroom. The students met with attorneys from countless practice areas as they explored their passions and interests in the law. The students even made trips to to Dell to meet with their legal team and UT Law to attend a class taught by Professor Sokolow, a law student favorite.
2019-2020 saw the growth of partnerships with outside organizations. The Cancer Law Clinic came to Akins to help prepare end of life documents for fifteen families with terminally ill cancer patients. The experience was powerful and humbling for the students as they saw the strength of their clients and the clients' families in such a challenging time. The University of Texas Law School Aggie Society also traveled to Akins and helped prepare wills for over fifty teachers and staff members! All of these services were provided at no cost to the students. Beyond the weekend clinics, the students continued to support clients in immigration, probate, and family law matters. The Legal Eagles also took home first, second, and third place at the Central Texas Mock Trial Finals while defending their title, and eventually qualified as one of three teams to represent Texas at the National Finals in Chicago.
The summer of 2020 will see Carlos Garcia transitioning into the law teacher role at Akins High School in place of Armin Salek. Carlos is a highly experienced criminal defense attorney that has handled many of the most famous death penalty cases in Texas. As Carlos steps in, Armin will transition into an administrative role as he plans the expansions of high school legal aid clinics across Austin.
By the 2022-2023 school year, the Youth Justice Alliance wants to have three fully functioning legal aid clinics running at three high schools across Austin ISD. The three campuses currently targeted are Akins (to continue service of Southeast Austin), Eastside Memorial (Central East Austin), and Navarro High School (Northeast Austin). These three schools were selected based on geographic needs for service providers, the opportunity to highlight the abilities of bilingual students, and potential partnerships with social service providers already serving those campuses.
The clinics that will soon spread across East Austin will serve multiple purposes: