Legal Community Partnership Programs
This suite of programs taps the knowledge of lawyers, legal professionals, law students, and police officers, who are trained by Street Law to teach young people about the law.
These subject-matter experts (or "community resource people," as we like to call them) play an important role in delivering high-quality, effective civic education. When incorporated into classroom learning, community resource people can bring the law to life through real-world examples and experiences and serve as powerful positive role models.
This area of work includes our popular Legal Diversity Pipeline Programs. These programs provide opportunities for teams of volunteer attorneys and legal professionals from law firms and corporate law departments to teach local high school students about law and law-related careers as part of a strategy for increasing diversity in the legal profession.
Street Law’s Legal Diversity Pipeline Programs partner law firms and corporate legal departments with nearby, diverse high school classes. Through classroom visits and a field trip to the law firm or legal department, volunteers teach lessons and lead activities designed to increase students' knowledge and interest in the law and legal careers.
This Pipeline Program can serve as one component of comprehensive diversity efforts led by companies and law firms.
Street Law implements this program with support and collaboration from two national partners: NALP and the Association of Corporate Counsel.
Law school-based practical legal education programs—commonly referred to as “Street Law” programs—are innovative programs in which law students teach non lawyers about law, the legal system, and the fundamental principles of democracy. Law students trained in interactive teaching pedagogy teach high school students, disadvantaged populations, and others the basic information, skills, and attitudes they need to thrive as active members of their society.
For example, in a Street Law class focused on contract law, the law student instructors explain in plain language the basics of a contract—what it is, what it is used for, and who enforces it—to build practical knowledge of the topic. Then, the participants engage in a simulated contract negotiation to put that knowledge into practice, develop their communication and advocacy skills, and foster an appreciation for cooperation and finding common ground.
Through this blending of legal content and interactive teaching strategies, program participants build their understanding of practical legal matters and develop the skills and attitudes they need to effectively engage in the democratic processes of their communities. The programs also offer positive outlets for young people to serve their communities and learn to manage conflict in socially acceptable ways, as well as a foundation for strong partnerships with other community and school-based citizenship programs. The programs benefit law students as well. Through preparing lessons and teaching, law students not only thoroughly learn the legal content but also develop and practice the fundamental lawyering skill of explaining complex legal concepts in language understandable to lay audiences.
In the wake of the nationwide protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd and others, Americans are reflecting on, debating, and reimagining what the relationship between law enforcement officers and communities could and should look like.
At Street Law, we are also on a learning journey as we examine how law enforcement fits into our mission of educating young people about the law—especially young people of color who are vulnerable to injustice. Our intent continues to be to bridge divides.
We are committed to evolving the Police & Teens Program to ensure an equitable program model that reflects the voices of the young people and communities it serves. Our first steps on this journey are to connect with stakeholders and listen. We are having important conversations with young people, law enforcement organizations and officers, local governments, and educators that will inform our future approach.
We welcome all voices and perspectives as we listen and learn. If you would like to contribute your expertise or thoughts in this area, please contact Yolanda Johnson.