The Dallas Association of Young Lawyers is excited to announce that Judge Amber Givens has been selected as the DAYL Outstanding Mentor for 2020-2021. As the presiding Judge of a criminal felony court (282d Judicial District Court), Judge Givens makes life-changing decisions each day.
Judge Givens’ impact on young lawyers is exemplified by her work with her internship class each summer. Having participated in the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers Judicial Internship Program for more than 5 years, Judge Givens has hired dozens of interns and involved them in all aspects of her court’s work. She breaks her internship into two parts: substantive law and community service. From research on legal topics to observation of Grand Jury proceedings, Judge Givens gives her students the tools necessary to be effective second-chair attorneys as soon as they leave her program. A highlight of the program is the mock voir dire which her students are required to perform before the completion of the program.
To encourage their volunteerism, her students plan, organize, and execute the entirety of the Word of Mouth Series. This program is designed to educate the Dallas community about the law through situation-based skits and presentations by attorneys and law enforcement professionals. Judge Givens’ interns identify the topics to be performed, learn the case law, write the skits, as well as audition actors and select a venue for performances, and market and promote the event. The students also find and prepare the attorneys and law enforcement officers who participate.
Judge Givens also actively participates in other programs to promote the growth of young lawyers including panel discussions at the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law, the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, the Southwest Black Law Students Association Mock Trial Competition, the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers Judicial Internship Interview Program, and the Dallas Bar Association Mock Voir Dire Project.
Judge Givens frequently presents at legal programs and community service events to improve diversity in the profession, to promote women and minority success, and to foster excellence in young lawyers. Judge Givens shows through her actions that being an attorney and a judge requires going the extra mile. She is dedicated to making a difference, which is also shown through the Empowerment and Pipeline to Possibilities programs.
Created by Judge Givens, the Empowerment Program is a 10-month supplement to a felony probation program and is designed to equip probationers with the necessary support and life skills to successfully complete probation and transform their lives. This program gives probationers in her court expert assistance in the area of documentation (e.g. driver’s licenses), education, resume construction, dress, grooming, etiquette, public speaking, interviewing, banking, and social media. Through this program, probationers are guided to employment and educational opportunities to transform lives and prevent future discretions. From 2016 to the present, Judge Givens has changed the lives of over 300 program participants.
Created with three fellow Judges, Pipeline to Possibilities is an educational program designed to end the “school-to-prison pipeline” for minority and socio-economically disadvantaged students. Through presentations by prominent sports stars, elected officials, and celebrities, Judge Givens’ program works to inspire the young people of Dallas to become leaders and strive for greater educational and personal opportunities.
Additionally, Judge Givens’ public service extends beyond the courtroom as she serves on the Advisory Board of the Oak Cliff Boys and Girls Club, the Dallas County Juvenile Board, and the Advisory Board of the Dallas Women Lawyers Association, among other organizations.
Judge Givens teaches the next generation of lawyers – both in word and deed – how to be not only effective attorneys but also agents of change in their communities. It is for all these reasons and more that Judge Amber Givens is the recipient of the DAYL 2020-2021 Outstanding Mentor Award.