• WINTER 2008
  • Educating the Public about the Law



ruleOflawDialogue on the Rule of Law

The ABA Division for Public Education presents the Dialogue on the Rule of Law, the sixth installment in the ABA Dialogue Program. This year’s Dialogue complements the 2008 Law Day theme—"The Rule of Law: Foundation for Communities of Opportunity and Equity"—and is designed for use by lawyers, judges, and teachers in school classrooms and with community groups. The Dialogue will be introduced at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Los Angeles, February 6–12, and will be available as of February 6 for purchase in print or as a free downloadable PDF here.

The Dialogue offers numerous perspectives on the rule of law, with different options for different audiences and classroom settings. Part I gives participants an opportunity to consider what the rule of law means by looking at different components and definitions of the rule of law. Part II looks at the rule of law in U.S. and world history, focusing on the rule of law in the age of revolutions, the rule of law and slavery, and the movement toward an international rule of law in the early decades of the twentieth century. Part III considers the rule of law in literature and movies, providing different options for discussions with elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as adult audiences. Books and movies featured in Part III include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Holes, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and High Noon.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy introduced the first Dialogue program, the Dialogue on Freedom, at the 2002 ABA Midyear Meeting in Philadelphia. In 2003, the ABA introduced the Dialogue on Brown v. Board of Education to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling. In 2005, the Dialogue on the American Jury complemented the ABA’s American Jury Initiative. In 2006, the Dialogue on the Separation of Powers was introduced, followed by the Dialogue on Youth and Justice in 2007. For more information on these Dialogues, visit


youthCourtTrainingEnhanced Youth Court Training Package

The Youth Court Training Package now includes technical assistance bulletins and Youth Cases for Youth Courts: A Guide to the Typical Offenses Handled by Youth Courts. In addition to the new resources, the Youth Court Training Package provides material handbooks, a training guide and an instructional video to effectively train youth volunteers in youth court programs. Purchase the enhanced Youth Court Training Package for the same price of $45.


sure FirePresent with Confidence
Sure Fire Presentations Volume II Now Available

Sure Fire Presentations, Volume II provides easy-to-use classroom strategies for teaching elementary and secondary students about the law. Although this latest volume of Sure Fire Presentations builds upon the first volume, there is no duplication of lessons. Volume II covers the American jury system, voting rights, global perspectives on the law and the United Nations. A discounted price of $8.50 is offered for the purchase of both volumes of Sure Fire Presentations .


Unfinished Business book coverNew companion guide to Unfinished Business: Racial Equality in American History

The ABA Division for Public Education has released a new companion guide through its partnership with the Oxford University Press and its series on inalienable rights. This most recent guide complements Michael J. Klarman's Unfinished Business: Racial Equality in American History. In his book, Klarman, winner of the Bancroft Prize in American History, explores the factors that have influenced the quest for racial equality. The new companion guide, downloadable for free at, is designed to foster discussion on the key arguments Klarman makes in Unfinished Business. Quotes from the book are matched with other materials, both historical and contemporary, which illustrate or describe factors that have advanced or impeded racial equality. Discussion questions invite you to debate the issues raised by Klarman's statements. This guide is a helpful resource for exploring and understanding American race relations.


School Violence book coverSchool Violence: From Discipline to Due Process

This book is a comprehensive review of major legal issues relating to school violence. The contributing authors represent a variety of practice settings and provide important and useful guidance for dealing with these very timely issues. Topics include student violence and harassment, weapons in schools, student searches in schools, zero-tolerance policies, due process for students, threats and threatening communications at school, school liability, and much more. Read more, including the complete table of contents and about the contributing authors, and order at or call 800-285-2221.


book cover of America Votes! A Guide to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights

America Votes! provides a snapshot of America’s voting and electoral practices, problems, and most current issues. The book was edited and written by widely knowledgeable practitioners who explore a variety of fundamental areas concerning election law from a federal perspective, such as:

  • Lessons learned from the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections
  • The Help America Vote Act of 2002
  • Voter equality
  • Language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act
  • The role of election officials
  • The legal aspects of voting technology
  • Election officials
  • Demographic and statistical experts in election litigation

Available in March 2008, the book will be an invaluable resource for lawyers as well as law school professors, election officials, state and local government personnel involved in election administration, election workers, and poll workers. For more information and to preorder, call 800-285-2221 or visit the ABA webstore.

America Votes! Co-sponsored by the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, the ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyer's Division, the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, and the ABA Standing Committee on Election Law.


chooseLawChoose Law: A Profession for All

The ABA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) has a strong history of inclusion. To help insure that individuals of color are represented in the legal profession, the YLD developed a pipeline project designed for high school students of color, Choose Law: A Profession for All.

Choose Law encourages individuals of color to become attorneys through the use of a new video, a written guide, a Web site, attorney volunteers, and educators. Through Choose Law, students learn about the importance of the legal profession and how the law affects all aspects of their lives. The project also teaches students that attorneys of color have played a crucial role in the development of this noble profession. Finally, Choose Law shares the wonderful and diverse opportunities available for individuals pursuing a legal career and lays the path for getting started.

Choose Law program materials are now available online at Materials are available for free download or for purchase in the ABA Web store. Links to the Web store are on the Choose Law site.


civicEducationToolkitCivic Education Toolkits

The ABA Commission on Civic Education & Separation of Powers recently released toolkits to provide strategies and sample documents for effectively communicating and promoting the importance of these essential elements of the rule of law.

The toolkit designed for lawyers and bar leaders is sold for $9.95 and includes specific content on judicial independence, advocating for civic learning, and facilitating interbranch dialogue. The toolkit
for educators
is only $4.95 and includes K–12 lesson plans, and a special edition of Insights on Law & Society, which includes excerpts from feature articles from a series on the separation of powers. All toolkits contain:

  • Key findings and recommendations from an analysis of law-related content in secondary school textbooks
  • A copy of ABA policy on civic education and a substantive reported that was submitted to the House of Delegates for consideration by the Commission
  • A copy of the Dialogue on Separation of Powers booklet for use in classrooms and community settings
  • A DVD, Promoting the Message: Excerpts from “In Pursuit of Justice: A Conversation on Judicial Independence and Civic Education.” The DVD features Supreme Court Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Stephen G. Breyer (2006; 32 minutes).


Law Matters, the news source for the law-related education (LRE) community

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Law Matters, which reports on developments, ideas, programs, and resources in the field of public education about the law, is disseminated three times yearly (fall, winter, spring) by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Public Education.

Chair, Dwight L. Smith
Director, Division for Public Education, Mabel C. McKinney-Browning
Editor, Law Matters, Craig W. Johnson

The views expressed in this e-newsletter are those of the editors and have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association or the Standing
Committee on Public Education.

The American Bar Association is a not-for-profit organization.

Copyright ©2008 American Bar Association




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2007 Law Day Award Winners

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