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Midyear 2014: Judicial Division to hold outreach program at legal-themed Chicago high school

Midyear 2014: Judicial Division to hold outreach program at legal-themed Chicago high school

By John Glynn

During the American Bar Association Midyear Meeting, more than two dozen members of the Judicial Division will participate in an educational program for the students of Chicago’s Legal Prep Charter Academies.

The Feb. 5 program is part of the division’s efforts to help advance diversity in the legal profession. At each ABA midyear and annual meeting, the division’s Standing Committee on Diversity in the Judiciary organizes an outreach program with a local school in the host city. One of the goals of the program is to motivate middle school and high school students to seek positive role models and schools of higher learning that will cultivate their efforts to enter the legal profession.

Legal Prep Charter Academies is an ideal match for the program, with a student population that is 95 percent diverse and 90 percent low income.

The outreach program will focus on three primary topics: rights and responsibilities, freedom of speech, and civics and law. Groups of 12 to 16 students will meet with two or three volunteer judges and lawyers from around the country for discussion and other activities related to the topic areas. This curriculum was developed by the Maryland Judiciary and the Citizen Law Related Education Program.

Located in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, Legal Prep is Chicago’s only legal-themed charter high school. Its curriculum focuses on skills common to great lawyers: written and oral communication, critical thinking, problem solving and advocacy. While not all Legal Prep students will become lawyers, it is expected that all will gain an appreciation and respect for the law as well as acquire skills important for numerous postsecondary paths.

Legal Prep opened its doors in August 2012 and will eventually be a full high school serving 800 students. It works with the entire Chicago legal community — including corporate legal departments, law firms, bar associations and individual attorneys — to provide resources for its students.

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