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History of Our Division

  • As president of the ABA in 1971, Leon Jaworski established a Special Committee on Youth Education for Citizenship, which was the foundation of the current Division for Public Education.
  • In 1982, under the guidance of a Standing Committee on Public Education appointed by ABA presidents, the American Bar Association Division for Public Education was formed. 
  • The Division assumed responsibility for an adult public education-focused Commission on Public Understanding About the Law, in addition to the youth education committee. The following year, a Commission on College and University Legal Studies was added.
  • 1982 also marked the acquisition and publishing by the Division of Preview of U.S. Supreme Court Cases, which had previously been published by the Association of American Law Schools.
  • In 1994, the Division assumed responsibility for the Law Day and Silver Gavel Awards programs. Both programs date to 1958 and were established by then-ABA President Charles Rhyne, who appeared on the May 5, 1958 cover of Time magazine, marking the first national Law Day.
  • In 1997, the Standing Committee on Public Education expanded its membership from 7 to 15, including chairs of Law Day and the Silver Gavel Awards. In addition, a 14-member Advisory Commission of educators, scholars, and organizational leaders was also formed. 
  • The Division has staffed a number of special commission-led ABA presidential initiatives, including the work of the Commission on the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Commission on the American Jury, Commission on Civic Education and the Separation of Powers, and Commission on Civic Education in the Nation’s Schools.
  • Currently, the Division provides staff support for the Standing Committee/Advisory Commision on Public Education and the Standing Committee on Silver Gavel Awards.