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  • WINTER 2009
  • Educating the Public about the Law



Law-Related Education Conference 2009 - Call for Proposals

LRE logoThe ABA Division for Public Education is sponsoring the 26th Law-Related Education Leadership Conference in Chicago, October 1 - 3, 2009. The conference theme is Building a Better Tomorrow: Youth, Citizenship, and Civic Engagement, with session tracks focusing on juvenile justice, youth rights, civic education, and the future of law-related education in today’s ever-changing society. The conference is open to all who have an interest in law-related education, and everyone is welcome to attend, including judges, attorneys, politicians, teachers, and professors. Proposal submission is available online. Registration details for the conference will be determined soon, so watch for them! If you have questions, or would like more information, please contact Tiffany Willey at (312) 988-5739 or


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Championing Our Students Through Mentoring, Support, and Collaboration

The ABA received approval for grant funding in late fall 2008 from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for a unique law-focused mentoring program. Championing Our Students through Mentoring, Support, and Collaboration (COS) will strengthen and expand legal mentoring activities for at-risk adolescents in high-need areas in Chicago, Houston, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C.

The ABA Division for Public Education is working in partnership with the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO), America’s Promise Alliance (APA), and local community partners on this exciting collaboration that will touch the lives of more than 6,000 youth by the end of the project. ABA, CLEO, and APA will provide technical assistance as well as build and improve capacity in local community organizations that currently work with at-risk adolescents in the targeted areas.

Mentors and role models recruited exclusively from the legal professions will engage with adolescents in a variety of activities, including one-on-one, group, and online mentoring programs. These professionals will give participants an insider’s look into the full range of legal careers, including but not limited to the more well-known options of becoming a lawyer or judge. Programming will introduce and teach skills of analysis, debate, and logic as well as provide opportunities to investigate issues of law, society, ethics, and rights.

Additionally, two very special programs will be offered:

  • Sports Law Mentoring Workshops will be available in each of the five cities, featuring presenters who specialize in sports law and attorneys who are former professional or college athletes.
  • Summer Law Camp will take place in Chicago. Selected participants from each of the five targeted areas will convene in Chicago for a week-long, law-focused program on the campus of a local college, which will include social, behavioral, school related, and career components.

The program's initial funding is available for one year; however, the program has built-in sustainability features. The COS partnership will establish a Championing Our Students mentoring website (launch date to be determined) that provides online mentor training courses and online communication platforms. This site will be maintained beyond the one-year life of the funded program and available for the public. A Legal Mentoring Toolkit will be produced that will contain valuable resources to allow other organizations to develop and operate an effective legal mentoring program, including a mentor training manual, an activity guide, a DVD for potential mentors, and additional law-related and general mentoring resources.


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Resources on Lincoln’s Bicentennial

lincolnAs we look forward to 2009, and the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, there are plenty of bicentennial activities to quench our thirsts to honor the quintessential lawyer-president. In addition to the activities planned around the ABA 2009 Law Day theme, A Legacy of Liberty – Celebrating Lincoln’s Bicentennial, including the Dialogue series and the ABA Museum of Law’s exhibit, “Lincoln as Lawyer,” many other organizations around the nation will be celebrating Lincoln’s bicentennial.

For example, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission is the official headquarters for “Lincolnmania.” Available resources include podcasts of Americans describing what Lincoln means to them, opportunities to share new comments about Lincoln, lessons for teachers, ideas for students, and programming guides for communities wishing to celebrate Lincoln’s legacy locally. 

A searchable online database at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln website offers free access to thousands of digitized copies of Lincoln’s personal and legal papers. Finally, the Library of Congress and the National Archives house hundreds of Lincoln documents, such as the Gettysburg Address and Emancipation Proclamation, many of which are available online for free download. Whatever your fancy, there is a Lincoln Bicentennial event for you. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to honor America’s 16th President!


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ABA Public Program Series

The ABA Public Program Series kicked off in October at the ABA headquarters in Chicago with A Conversation with Joseph Margulies. Margulies, counsel of record, Rasul v. Bush (2004) - Landmark Guantanamo Detentions Case, assistant director, MacArthur Justice Center, Northwestern University Law School, won the 2007 ABA Silver Gavel Award for his book, Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power. During the program he discussed the United State’s detainee policies and provided suggestions on how the next administration could handle this issue.

ABA president-elect, Tommy Wells, and Carolyn Lamm, president-elect nominee, listen to student responses during the dialogue at the Duke Ellington School for Arts.

Joseph Margulies (left) discusses detainee policies with moderator,
Edward Adams, Editor and Publisher, ABA Journal (right)

Listen to the podcast of the Q&A session from this program or download the article from the ABA Journal. This event was the first in a series that will make law-related presentations and speakers available for the general public. Visit the site in the next few months for information on the spring public program.


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National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week Marks Its Fourth Anniversary

teendatingFebruary 2 - 6, 2009 is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. Since 2006, the United States Senate, led by Mike Crapo (R, Idaho), has unanimously supported this bipartisan effort to bring public awareness to this serious problem that teens confront far too often.

The ABA has been one of the national partners supporting and publicizing the effort as well as educating the public about this issue. In 2006, the ABA produced and distributed 1,000 Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Toolkits with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Subsequently, the ABA Division for Public Education and the Commission on Youth at Risk partnered with the Girl Scouts of the USA to develop a national pilot program, with a curriculum component especially for teen Girl Scouts entitled Take Charge! Violence Prevention, Conflict Resolution and the Law. The program was offered in eight cities in 2008.

In February 2009, an updated version of the toolkit and related materials will be available for download on the Division’s website and at the ABA Web Store. The toolkit includes a DVD, poster, Warning Signs and Prevention Recommendations, and Teacher/Facilitator Guide. These resources are suitable for curricular or extracurricular programming in schools and civic, community, and non-profit organizations. The toolkits and related materials have been used in high schools and community organizations throughout the United States and its territories as well as by military-base schools and schools that serve military families abroad to raise awareness and promote healthy teen relationships.

For more information, visit the website.


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The Youth Vote - Election 2008 Recap

The spring 2008 issue of LawMatters, ran an article on how youth participation in the election process has increased in recent elections. Leading up to the 2008 presidential elections, the buzz was about these young voters and what sort of influence they would have, and if they would vote.

According to Rock the Vote there are 44 million eligible young voters (ages 18-19) - though voter apathy has been an issue with this demographic for several decades. Despite this, in the 2008 election there was increased participation leading up to the November 4th elections on many levels by young people, and voting records were expected to be broken.

While it is still too early for exact details on voter turnout (details will be available spring 2009), CIRCLE ( The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) has projected that youth voting turnout will increase between 49.3% and 54.5% for 2008 November elections. Depending on the final vote tally, this year’s youth turnout could be the second highest since 1972 (55.4%).

“Young Americans went to the polls in record numbers, showing they are an influential voting bloc in American politics. This reflects their deep concern about the critical issues at stake and the impact of this election on our country’s future,” said Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE, based at Tuft’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. “We must build on the momentum from this election to motivate all young people to get involved in politics, government and their community. It is also critical that our communities, government and institutions capitalize on this opportunity to engage young people by expanding civic opportunities for young Americans.”

According to the National Exit Polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky, young people represented 18 percent of the voters in the November 4, 2008 election and voted for Barack Obama over John McCain nearly 2-1.

For more information on the reports by CIRCLE, visit


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Silver Gavel Award Deadline

Entries for the 2009 Silver Gavel Awards must be received January 7, 2009. Submit your own entry or nominate a recipient today!

Each year the Gavel Awards recognize entries from communications media that have been exemplary in helping to foster the American public's understanding of the law and the legal system. Categories include books, commentaries, documentaries, magazines, and websites.

Winners will be notified in May, with a public event held in Washington, D.C. in July 2009. Visit the website for more information and for an entry form.

Silver gavel


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Register for the 2009 Teacher Summer Institute

Join the ABA Division for Public Education and the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. in June 2009 for the Federal Trials and Great Debates in United States History Teacher Summer Institute. This year’s theme is Seeking Social Change Through the Courts.

Designed especially for secondary school teachers of U.S. history, law, and civics/government, the institute will deepen participants’ knowledge of the federal judiciary and the role the federal courts have played in key public controversies that have defined our constitutional and other legal rights.

Participants will work closely throughout the institute with leading historians, federal judges, and curriculum consultants. Confirmed faculty include Michael Klarman, Kirkland & Ellis Professor, Harvard Law School, Jeffrey Rosen, Professor of Law, George Washington University, and Lucy Salyer, Associate Professor of History, University of New Hampshire.

To explore the theme of Seeking Social Change Through the Courts, the institute will focus on these three landmark federal trials:

  • Woman Suffrage and the Trial of Susan B. Anthony
  • Chinese Exclusion Act and Chew Heong v. United States
  • The Desegregation of New Orleans Schools and Bush v. Orleans Parish School Board

Participation will be limited to 20 teachers. Travel, lodging, and meal expenses will be reimbursed to institute participants according to U.S. government per diem rates.

Submit your application by March 2, 2009.


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Participate in the Fourth American Mock Trial Invitational

The New Jersey State Bar Foundation and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice invite qualifying high school students to compete against top mock trial finalists throughout the U.S. and abroad in the fourth American Mock Trial Invitational (AMTI) for high school students May 17 – 19, 2009 at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, NJ.

ABA president-elect, Tommy Wells, and Carolyn Lamm, president-elect nominee, listen to student responses during the dialogue at the Duke Ellington School for Arts.

Students participating in a social event at last year’s AMTI in Charlotte, NC.

AMTI was established in May of 2006 by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice in order to permit high school mock trial state champions with weekend religious obligations to compete in a national forum on weekdays. In addition, AMTI does not interfere with Friday or Saturday proms, AP exams or Mother’s Day.

AMTI is the only nationwide mock trial competition that permits as many as three of a state’s top six mock trial championship teams to participate. A team consists of 7 – 10 students.

Contestants will have the opportunity to try a challenging case, enjoy a private dinner at and educational tour of the inspiring Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York Harbor, and stay at a fine hotel in New Brunswick, a vibrant college town less than one hour from New York City.

The cost to register a team is $200. This includes complimentary:

  • continental breakfasts and buffet luncheons for teams, coaches and guests on May 18 and 19;
  • orientation dinner for teams and coaches on May 17 (guests may purchase tickets);
  • dinner and tour of Ellis Island for teams and coaches (guests may purchase tickets) on May 18;
  • bus transportation to social events;
  • souvenirs for team members and coaches; and
  • trial practice rooms for scrimmages on May 17.

For more information, contact Sheila Boro, director of mock trial programs for the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, at 732-937-7519 or e-mail


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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.

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Director, Division for Public Education, Mabel C. McKinney-Browning
Editor, Law Matters, Colleen Danz

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 ©2009 American Bar Association




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