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Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

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Planning a Street Law Program at Your School

Running the Program

Most programs are coordinated by a faculty or staff member. Some programs use an adjunct professor, often a former Street Law participant. Non-credit bearing programs might consider hiring a student coordinator or getting one to volunteer. For a minimal amount of money, a law student coordinator could help to select sites and materials and conduct follow-up with sites and law students.

Contact Street Law, Inc.

Judy Zimmer can provide you with resources as you begin.

Relationships with the Law School

It is important to cultivate your relationship with the law school. Consider the program's connections to law school admissions, community relations, course offerings, and student demands. Also invite law faculty to participate in seminars, visit classes, or score a mock trial competition. Many programs use law school alumni to mentor high school students, help with mock trial instruction, or team teach with beginning instructors. Nurturing these alumni relations can help with funding.

Funding

The faculty salary is the greatest cost of running a credit-bearing Street Law program. A few programs also hire an administrative assistant and/or a law student fellow. Other costs include office space, equipment, and duplication costs.

The best way for the Street Law Program to become an integral part of the law school is for the law school to fund it or at least fund the professor's salary. This is not always feasible, however, especially for programs that are just starting out. New programs should try to get the law school to make in-kind contributions such as use of office space and equipment, in particular, a copy machine. Find out whether your university has some form of community or public school collaboration – they might have some modest funding or information about funding available for your program.

Questions to ask as you develop a funding strategy

  1. Who would support the program locally? The first attempt for funding should be to explore options at the law school. Additional funders could include local corporate counsel, firms, bar associations, community foundations, school systems, or alumni. Brainstorm the broad areas your Street Law program links to (e.g., youth development, democracy building, family strengthening, etc.) and see which local foundations are interested in funding these areas.
  2. How can you present the program in the best light? Think about how the program benefits law students, high school students (or other program audiences), and the community. Collect success stories that capture the heart of Street Law to highlight to funders. If you are a new program, talk to people who are undertaking a similar program to collect success stories.
  3. What connections exist to funders? Think about what connections to funders you can massage (e.g., through alumni or law school connections) instead of sending blind proposals.

Prevent Unauthorized Practice of Law

All states have prohibitions against the unauthorized practice of law by non-lawyers and law students. In a nutshell, unauthorized practice of law occurs when a non-lawyer or a law student (who does not have express approval according to the state's law student practice rules) gives specific legal advice.

To avoid any potential problems with unauthorized practice of law issues:/p>

  • Become familiar with your state's unauthorized practice of law rules and rules applicable to law student practice
  • Discuss unauthorized practice of law issues with law students
  • Ensure that law students know that they can not give specific legal advice to their students
  • Have law students tell their classes that they are not attorneys and can not give specific legal advice. Instead they are there to teach students about practical laws so that their students will avoid legal problems and know where to go for help in the event of a legal need
  • Prepare law students to handle student questions that ask for specific legal advice (e.g., Q: My cousin got arrested for shop lifting and the police forgot to give him his Miranda rights. Can he sue the police? A: I am not an attorney and even if I were one, I could not answer your questions without knowing all the facts. If you think your cousin needs to contact an attorney, try calling ___________. Now let's take a look at how Miranda applies to problem no. 5)

Working With Your Sites

  • Assess the needs of the sites: Decide what sites are the best fit for your Street Law program. Listen to the teachers or coordinators at the site to assess their needs.
  • Maintain an on-going relationship with your sites: Check in with the coordinating teachers periodically. Capture any stories they might have about law student successes and obstacles. Consider switching a problematic site.
  • The cooperating teacher: If your site is a school, you will have a cooperating teacher – the classroom teacher who teaches on the days your law students don’t. This teacher should work with the law students in a supportive professional relationship. In the strongest programs, law students and the cooperating teacher plan and teach together and coordinate activities closely. When the law student is unavailable to teach the course (due to exams, law school holidays, etc.), the cooperating teacher continues the Street Law program. A cooperating teacher provides an excellent opportunity for law students to work with another professional and creates support for the Street Law program within the site.

    The cooperating teacher should help the law students by:

    • Directing the delivery of the curriculum
    • Modeling good teaching strategies
    • Sharing his or her expertise in teaching methodologies, classroom management, and curricular content
    • Being responsible for student behavior - i.e., discipline, grading, documentation of achievement, etc.
    • Providing law student instructors with feedback and suggestions for improvement
    • Orientating the law student to school policies
    • Invite cooperating teachers to meet with law students and attend training sessions: Make use of the expertise of the cooperating teachers by involving them in any awareness or training sessions you offer the law students. Identify cooperating teachers who agree to help law students with classroom instruction.
    • Write-up an informal agreement about the responsibilities of the coordinating teacher: Decide what the site needs to do and what you need to do to ensure programmatic success.
    • Profession development for the cooperating teacherContact your state’s law-related education center to inquire about trainings offered to support the efforts of teachers you work with.

Building Participation

  • Conduct an awareness session: Conduct a brown bag lunch session to give students the basic information they need without requiring a big time commitment from anyone.
  • Create incentives for law student instructors: If your law school has a public service requirement, advocate for Street Law to count toward that requirement. If your school does not have a requirement, consider having a special recognition on law students' diplomas or transcripts for X hours of public service. Other incentives include getting some publicity for the program, hosting a party for law students, or just being a friendly face available for support.
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