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Lawyer/Teacher Partnership

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The Lawyer-Teacher Partnership program pairs volunteering attorneys with teachers of high school law-related courses to strengthen those classes and to expose young people to possible careers in the law.

About the Lawyer-Teacher Partnership

During the semester in which the program is implemented, each lawyer will commit to making a minimum of two classroom visits and a minimum of one community-based activity. A community-based activity could include, for example, a field trip to a local court, observation of a legislative session, meeting with agency staff or a law-related service learning project.

The lawyer and teacher will commit to ongoing communication during the period of the program. Some of the communication will be directed toward planning for the community-based activity. In addition, the lawyer will agree to accept e-mails from time to time from the class about a legal question that has arisen that the teacher is unable to answer. The lawyers will agree to provide reasonably quick responses to these questions and the teachers agree to avoid overburdening their lawyer partners with questions.

More than 16 high schools enrolled in the pilot program of the Lawyer-Teacher Partnership for the 2007-08 school year. The partnership is an outgrowth of the MBA's re-energized focus on law-related education efforts, a goal of 2006-07 MBA President Mark D Mason.

How the program works

Lawyer-teacher teams attend a daylong training session to prepare and plan for the upcoming year. This year's training session was held by Lee Arbetman, the director of U.S. programs at Street Law Inc., an organization dedicated to promoting the knowledge of legal rights and responsibilities.

"Lawyers and teachers in the classroom have to approach the subject differently than those in math and science," said Arbetman. "Where the sciences have explicit solutions, any discussion of law in the classroom is dominated by dynamic outcomes and a lot of gray area. Therefore, the whole approach to legal education takes on a different look."

The Lawyer-Teacher Partnership utilizes Street Law course material that goes beyond one-time lectures from law professionals. In addition to lectures from those with diverse roles in the legal system, the program includes supplemental casework for student role-playing and a test bank that promotes critical thinking. Mason, himself a participant in the Lawyer-Teacher Partnership, emphasized the importance of legal education in the community during the training session.

Since the Street Law program was founded in 1972, it has steadily demonstrated a reduction in crime in those neighborhoods where the program has been instituted.

Among Street Law's accomplishments are:

  • Empowering people to become active in civic affairs;
  • Promoting a culture of human rights and democracy;
  • Giving youth alternatives to violence;
  • Providing leadership training to young people;
  • Addressing the special needs of teen parents and youth in juvenile justice, foster care and homeless/runaway youth programs;
  • Making teaching easier with cutting-edge, participatory methodology;
  • Drawing real-world connections between young people's lives and the law; and
  • Offering opportunities to understand conflict and transform problems into educational experiences.

Related articles about the program:

MBA links the law with the classroom thanks to an innovative partnership (Lawyers Journal, May 2007)

Worcester County attorney and teacher team up to help students learn the law through new partnership program (Lawyers Journal, May 2007)

To volunteer for this program, contact the Community Services Department at (617) 338-0695, or communityservices.

Click to return to main Public and Community Services page and browse other programs.

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association