Silver Spring, MD – Lee Arbetman, executive director of Street Law, Inc., is retiring in December 2020 after more than 45 years with the organization.
Lee joined Street Law in 1975, as a law student and a former high school social studies teacher. In his early days with the organization, he was a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow. In that role he helped expand Street Law’s District of Columbia-based program across the country. Lee led Street Law’s U.S.-based programs for nearly three decades before becoming executive director in 2008.
Under Lee’s leadership, Street Law became a household name in high schools across the country. He is the author of the high school-level law textbook, Street Law: A Course in Practical Law. First published in 1975 and now in its 10th edition, the textbook has been an integral part of developing a high school law elective course and, more recently, law-themed high schools.
In 1995, Lee designed the Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers, a teacher professional development institute that has helped more than 1,500 teachers expand and improve the way they teach their students about the Supreme Court and its cases. This institute helped establish Street Law as the go-to organization in the field for teacher professional development related to teaching about law, government, and, particularly, the Supreme Court.
Another signature effort under Lee’s leadership was the creation of the Legal Diversity Pipeline Program. This program partners corporate legal departments and law firms with nearby high schools to teach young people about everyday, practical law and pathways to a legal career—with an ultimate goal of encouraging more young people from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in the legal profession. Each year this program mobilizes more than 2,000 lawyers and legal professionals from 50+ corporations and law firms across the country.
Reflecting on his long tenure at Street Law, Lee said: “I’ve been really lucky to find work that marries law, democracy, and education in the unique way that Street Law does. Great satisfaction has come from doing this work both with my colleagues at Street Law, whom I genuinely like and admire, and with partners across the country and around the world. I’ll miss the work—and I’ll miss the people even more.”
“It's hard to imagine Street Law without Lee. He has been with Street Law since the beginning, and the steady hand at the helm for the last decade,” Amy Dunathan Hammer, chair of the Street Law Board of Directors, said of Lee’s retirement. “During Lee's tenure as executive director, Street Law's relevance and impact has grown exponentially. Today, Street Law is a civic education powerhouse that benefits nearly one million young people each year—in no small part due to his passion, energy, expertise, and dedication. On behalf of the board, I want to express our deep appreciation to Lee for leaving all of us with a Street Law that is stronger, more financially stable, and more effective than ever before in its 45+ year history and well-positioned for the future. We will miss him, but wish him well in his retirement adventure.”
A search committee has been formed to identify the next executive director. For more information, see the Position Profile on Koya Leadership Partners’ website.
Lee Arbetman: 45 Years of Street Law