Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : July 2006

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Points After Touchdown

~ Through scholarship, law firm rewards excellence both on and off the field`~

After four years of bringing his A-game to the football field and the classrooms of Northwest High School in Germantown, Maryland, Joseph Braun is being rewarded for his efforts by the law firm of Lerch, Early and Brewer, Chartered, with their 2006 Annual Scholarship Award.

"Joe was a solid player," says Jeff Van Grack, co-chair of Lerch, Early and Brewer's Community Association Group and a key contributor to establishing the scholarship with the school. "He was a bright kid who was always dedicated and a hard worker."

He was a
bright kid
who was always
dedicated and
a hard worker.

Jeff Van Grack

The $500 scholarship is awarded to a Northwest football player who has participated on the varsity team every year of high school and has the highest cumulative grade point average. Braun played as a Defensive Back and Wide Receiver, while achieving a 3.6 GPA during his high school career.

"It's solely based upon numbers," explains Van Grack, who helped develop the honor six years ago as a way to "encourage the kids to do well."

Van Grack's tie to the school began in 1998 when Northwest first opened. After learning that one of his co-worker's sons had been named as the assistant coach for the new school's football program, he volunteered to help in any capacity. Van Grack, who played high school football himself, and Paul Alpuche, chair of Lerch, Early and Brewer's Business and Taxation group, have been voluntary assistant coaches for nine years.

While their main responsibilities include scouting other teams and offering words of encouragement for the players, Van Grack and Alpuche offer a great deal of succor through their scholarship and internship program at the law firm, of which many Northwest football players take part. Darren Brownlee, currently a football player at West Virginia University, developed a close relationship with Van Grack during his internship over the summer following his graduation from Northwest in 2005. And as much as the students take away from the opportunities that Lerch, Early and Brewer provide, Van Grack takes away just as much.

"It's passion for me – helps take the stress off of work," says Van Grack, who follows the students as they graduate and pursue other endeavors.

Braun will attend the University of Miami, Florida in the fall of 2006, and Van Grack is confident and proud of this year's scholarship award winner. "He is a bright kid who put in four good years," he says.

With his future ahead of him, Braun plans to be a regular college student and concentrate on academics rather than athletics, though he will never forgot the Friday night home football games with his friends and the fans, especially the team's biggest fan: Jeff Van Grack.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: July 2006

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