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.
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.
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.
Our Police & Teens Program prepares and equips police officers to teach young people about the law in high schools and community settings. Its collaborative, dialogue-based approach helps build awareness, respect, empathy, and understanding between police officers and youth.