“No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom”— The ABA YLD Law Day 2012 Video Contest

Volume 37, Number 3


Rachel Packer is an attorney in Northern New Jersey and co-chair of the ABA Section of Litigation, Ethics and Professionalism Committee, Diversity Subcommittee. 

Fifty-three years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day as an annual celebration and recognition of the laws and freedoms of this country. Each year on May 1, Law Day features a different theme to highlight prominent issues and figures related to our legal system, encouraging all Americans to reflect on the principles on which this country was built.

Continuing this tradition, last year, the ABA YLD established a Law Day Video Contest to boost student participation in Law Day. The contest gives high school students the opportunity to showcase their creativity while increasing their understanding of Law Day and its annual theme. Last year’s winner was a student from New Jersey with the video, “John Adams Legacy: A Short Animated Film,” which can be viewed at www.ambar.org/lawday.

This year’s contest is co-sponsored by the Standing Committee on Judicial Independence and the Division for Public Education. In charge of this year’s contest are Renee Lugo, Program Associate, and Brian Brock, Contest Coordinator.


About the Contest

High school students love competition. They also love prizes. Creating a competition in which the prize is an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., and national recognition . . . genius!

The Law Day Video Contest is an excellent opportunity for high school students to get involved in Law Day, learn more about the annual theme and our legal system, and to incorporate their talents and skills from a number of different academic disciplines. According to the ABA YLD, this year’s theme, “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom,” asks students to “highlight the role of our nation’s courts in our constitutional democracy and to foster public understanding of the judiciary.” Students will need to work together, be creative, and call on a variety of skills to incorporate the theme into a short video clip.

The contest adds a fresh element to the list of existing Law Day activities, with the ability to be incorporated into group or individual instruction, as well as public, private, or home school programs. Teachers can choose to make the contest part of a curriculum, or even offer extra credit to students who choose to participate. Parents can get involved by encouraging their children to create a video just for fun. Either way, participating students can work individually or in groups and must create a completely original video that adheres to the theme, while demonstrating knowledge and understanding of our judicial system.

Each submission will be judged on originality, creativity, adherence to theme, and overall quality. The ABA YLD will select one finalist from each state and post the finalists’ videos on the ABA YLD’s YouTube channel. At that point, anyone can go to either site and “like” his or her favorite finalist’s video. Four finalists will win a trip to Washington, D.C., for the ABA Law Day Celebration, where their names will be announced at a special ceremony. The winners will then be given the rare opportunity to take a special tour of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rules and Eligibility

The contest is open to high school students, grades 9–12, attending a public or private high school, or a home school. Students may submit entries individually, in groups, or as a class. If submitting an entry as a group or a class, the students must select one representative to travel to Washington, D.C., if they are selected as finalists. The videos can be no longer than three minutes and must highlight this year’s theme of the role and importance of the judiciary in our democracy.

Entries will be accepted beginning October 1, 2011, and the deadline for entry is February 15, 2012. In addition, all entries must be accompanied by a signed Law Day Video Contest Entry Form, as well as a Parental Permission Release (for students under 18 years of age). Finally, all submissions must include a certification as to the originality of the work.

All of the necessary forms and a copy of the official rules are available online at www.ambar.org/lawday. Be sure to visit and “like” the ABA YLD Law Day Video Contest Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LawDayVideo to help spread word of the contest and view last year’s winning submission. Any additional questions can be directed to Renee Lugo at renee.lugo@americanbar.org or Brian Brock at bpb808@gmail.com.

Getting the Word Out

As a recipient of this newsletter, you are clearly a leader in your Affiliate and are in the unique position to encourage and involve others in such an important program. As a law clerk years ago, I witnessed firsthand the excitement and motivation Law Day programs bring to students. On Law Day, my judge and I visited a local charter school where the students had prepared an entire mock trial for us to watch. Needless to say, the experience was unforgettable. It was amazing to see how much time and effort the students put into preparing the trial and learning about courtroom procedures. Following the students’ presentation, they asked plenty of questions that showed just how interested they were to learn more about our legal system, and I was inspired by the large number of students who expressed interest in becoming lawyers and judges in the future.

You can help to inspire more students like the ones I visited on Law Day by getting the word out to your Affiliate regarding the Law Day Video Contest. You and your Affiliate can get involved by notifying local schools, by reaching out to parents, students, and teachers you know, and by sharing the information on networking and social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Sample letters for Affiliates, educators, and social media promos, as well as a printable flyer are available under “Resources” on the ABA YLD Law Day Video Contest website at www.ambar.org/lawday.

The ABA YLD leadership has committed to continuing this contest on an annual basis and will provide support to Affiliates who want to be involved. Choosing to participate is a no-brainer, as the ABA YLD has done most of the work already by preparing the contest forms, setting up the forum for the videos, and taking care of sending thank-you notes to all of the students that submit entries. The ABA YLD has also put together an entire team of young lawyers ready to help Affiliates implement the contest in each state. With all of these resources at your disposal, it is important to remember to start promoting the contest early in the school year (e.g., right now!), so that teachers can incorporate the program into their curricula.



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