Legal Professional - Virtual NCLA Overview

What is the National Civics and Law Academy?

For nearly a decade, the ABA Division for Public Education has hosted the annual National Civics and Law Academy (NCLA), which has provided a special—often life-changing—educational opportunity for a select group of high school students to visit the nation’s capital to learn about law, government, and the justice system in the United States. Students examine public policy issues from diverse perspectives, develop citizenship and leadership skills, and meet peers from throughout the nation. This program has been offered at no-cost to the students. Legal professionals like you can help NCLA continue to engage and inspire students to become the next generation of leaders and lawyers.

How Legal Professionals Can Help?

Legal professionals play an essential role in NCLA as speakers to help students understand their work—and also the law and the role it plays in society. The volunteer time commitment would not be heavy (in most cases, just a few hours in conversation with students), but it would be an energizing way to connect with students from across the country and help them understand the law and legal careers. 

How can I become a guest speaker for NCLA 2021?

  • Please contact Catherine Hawke (Catherine.hawke@americanbar.org ), Associate Director, Division for Public Education, if you are interested in participating.
  • NCLA  staff will assign speakers to the cohort in their geographic region to allow for easier scheduling 

What should NCLA guest speakers expect?

  • Guest speakers will be asked to present for approximately 45 minutes via Zoom
    • NCLA staff will work with guest speakers in advance of their presentation to discuss exact content, which may include: day-to-day work life, path to legal career, law school experiences
  • 15 minutes of each session will be set aside for student questions
  • Speaking times will likely be in the early evening (cohorts will be split up into geographic areas to make scheduling easier)
  • As appropriate, guest speakers may arrange in person meetings with local NCLA students to provide further mentorship and support (any in person meetings would follow necessary local COVID-19 guidance)

2021 Academy – New Virtual Format

The ABA Division for Public Education will hold a re-imagined NCLA in a virtual format in 2021 to continue to follow the original spirit of the NCLA—to give minority and under-resourced high school students a unique opportunity to interact closely with leaders in law and government.

What Will the New Virtual NCLA Include?

  • A series of engaging online conversations between small groups of high school students and lawyers and leaders in government from across the country.
  • Opportunities for diverse and talented students to learn about government, the law, and legal careers.
  • Presentations by accomplished legal professionals—including lawyers, judges, policy advocates, journalists, etc.—to help students understand legal careers and the importance of the law.
  • Opportunities for students to reflect on what they have learned and engage in interactive projects with their peers and legal professionals.

Conversations will last for approximately an hour, allowing time for student questions. Afterward, students will participate in small group discussions (facilitated through the Zoom breakout function) to debrief the session and then return to the larger group discussion to reflect on their takeaways.

What have NCLA students said about their experiences?

My biggest takeaway form the NCLA is that I can accomplish anything.
Luis Sanchez, Anaheim, CA

The NCLA taught me to embrace things that are uncomfortable for you.
Tanner Randall, Norman, OK

Meeting diverse young lawyers affirmed that one day I can also be a young lawyer.
Sofia Dirie, Baltimore, MD