Law Day 2008 Award Winners
By Francine Bailey
Francine Bailey is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate in the Chicago, Illinois firm of Bellows & Bellows P.C.
Each year, the American Bar Association acknowledges outstanding Law Day activities and an outstanding Law Day speech with an award. The purpose of the award program is to give national recognition to interesting and creative ways used to educate the community about the legal process and our government structure. The 2008 Law Day theme was “The Rule of Law: Foundation for Communities of Opportunity and Equality” and was intended to encourage participants to examine and explore the meaning of the rule of law.
An important aspect to the 2008 theme was building a connection between the rule of law and people’s everyday lives. This year’s award recipients did just that and included the Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, the Guam Bar Association, the Connecticut Judicial Branch, and for the Judge Edward R. Finch Law Day Speech Award, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex Vicinage.
Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance
Located in Bakersfield, California, Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance (GBLA) was busy with a week-long celebration before Law Day. It began with an open house in which lawyers discussed rule of law matters with members of the community. During the open house, members of the public were able to find out more information on the rule of law in areas such as child support, domestic violence programs, and others. The week continued with workshops and programs held at the Kern County Law Library that focused on the positive side of the rule of law.
In addition to bringing the rule of law to the community, GBLA, in collaboration with members of the Kern County Bar Association, sent lawyers to local high schools to discuss how the law changes for students when they turn eighteen. One creative aspect of the program came from the marketing of Law Day. GBLA asked an adult learning art class to design posters and fliers to market Law Day activities. A painting from one student also appeared on t-shirts celebrating Law Day.
Connecticut Judicial Branch
The Connecticut Judicial Branch was the recipient of the Outstanding Activity Award in the budget of less than $5,000 but more than $1,000 category. Among the many Judicial Branch Law Day activities, a local television station produced a public service announcement that aired on both English- and Spanish-speaking radio stations.
To better educate students in Connecticut, the Judicial Branch created a curriculum for high school students. The curriculum had two parts: the first an interactive segment and the second entitled “The Rule of Law and the Amistad Case.” The second segment demonstrated the importance of the rule of law and emphasized how judges decide cases. Judges from all levels of the Connecticut judicial system visited classrooms to teach and explain the meaning of the rule of law.
Other Law Day activities included programs at various judicial branches throughout Connecticut, as well as a statewide mock trial competition. The final round of the competition was held at the end of the week in the Connecticut Supreme Court courtroom before three justices.
Guam Bar Association
The Guam Bar Association was the winner in the budget over $5,000 category, sponsoring a week of events to celebrate Law Day. The legal community raised awareness on the accessibility of the courts and legal resources.
One of the largest activities during Law Week included a two-day Law Fair at a large shopping center. Representatives from the legal community and law enforcement participated in events to educate the public about the array of available services. In addition, a 5K Race Judicata and mock trials for students were held.
Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex Vicinage
The Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex Vicinage was the recipient of the Judge Edward R. Finch Law Day Speech Award, which recognizes a speech that helps the public understand the rule of law and the important role that the law plays in society. Dr. Lenworth Gunther was the featured speaker during the Superior Court of New Jersey Law Day celebration, and his presentation, entitled “The Rule of Law: Dimensions of Dynamism in American Democracy,” covered a wide range of topics, including Brown v. Board of Education, women’s suffrage, the Dred Scott case, and the Nuremburg trials in Germany. Dr. Gunther reminded the audience that laws are not static and that the rule of law lives in the enforcement of the law and how citizens use the law.
Congratulations to all the 2008 winners! Entries for 2009 Law Day activity awards must be submitted by June 12, 2009. For more information on the awards, please visit . In addition, you can promote your Law Day activities on the ABA’s Division for Public Education website. To be included on the Public Education Division’s Law Day calendar, be sure to provide the title, dates, location, contact information, related weblinks, and a description of the event no longer than 250 words. For complete details, please visit .