What Is Street Law?
New York Law School has teamed up with Middle School 22 in the Bronx and the Children’s Aid Society in Harlem to bring law students and middle and high school students together. The law students share their knowledge about the law and educate the younger middle school and high school students about their legal rights. Further, the New York offices of Mayer Brown LLP and of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver, and Jacobson LLP have partnered with the Law School in an effort to teach the middle and high school students about the legal profession.
The Street Law program was initiated in 1972 at the Georgetown University Law Center. (Click here to visit the Street Law website.) Since then, more than sixty law schools across the country and around the world have enacted similar programs. The following information from the Street Law website clearly articulates the goals of the program:
The primary emphasis of Street Law is on teaching practical law as it affects laypersons in their daily lives. Other goals of the course include development of a positive attitude on the part of students toward law and the legal system, improvement in critical thinking and problem solving skills, examination of moral and ethical values, and exposure to vocational opportunities within the legal system.
In order to participate in the Street Law Program, New York Law School students must attend a training session, which is conducted here at the Law School. At this training students learn about:
- Law-related education
- Street Law program goals
- Teaching methodologies
- The specific curriculum to be taught to the Street Law students
- How to organize and conduct a moot court activity
After this session, law students become official trainers and have the option of working with middle school students at MS 22 or high school students at the Children’s Aid Society. Once trained, the law student trainers will visit the sites on ten occasions. The first five sessions are interactive lessons that teach students about 4th Amendment rights outside and inside the school. The latter five sessions focus on developing arguments based on a 4th Amendment fact pattern that will ultimately be presented in a moot court at the end of the program. For the final session, the middle school students will visit Fried Frank or New York Law School and present their arguments before a panel comprised of associates and partners and an audience of their Law School trainers.
The New York Law School Street Law Project overall program goals include:
- Students will be able to articulate and protect their individual rights
- Students will be able to identify key players in the legal system, as well as key sources of the law
- Students will be able to think like a lawyer, and use legal skills to formulate sound arguments
- Students will be able to develop arguments, and showcase their knowledge at a moot court at then end of the semester.
For more information or to participate in Street Law, contact email Amanda Gayle.
About Our Program Partners
MS 22 is a middle school in the Bronx with 640 students from grade 5 through grade 8. The school population comprises 20 percent Black, 77 percent Hispanic, 1 percent White, and 2 percent Asian. The student body includes 36 percent English language learners and 14 percent special education students. Boys account for 48 percent of the students enrolled and girls account for 52 percent. The school is in receipt of Title 1 funding with 82 percent eligibility.
The school is broken down into 6 small academies. Teachers in each academy meet weekly for 90 minutes to plan instruction and work on the social and emotional needs of their students. Each morning all students recite the school mission and vision:
“Our school is a community where caring people work together, to improve constantly as learners. In our academies we integrate all subjects to create meaningful demonstrations of our learning. We are all responsible citizens creating a better present and future, free of prejudice and full of hope.”
Children’s Aid Society—Hope Leadership Academy (Hope) is a teen center that gives adolescents a safe place to process their feelings on violence and victimization, and shows them how to derive strength from their experiences so that they can feel empowered rather than hopeless.
This youth development model is designed to compensate for adolescents’ real or perceived lack of opportunities by providing them with a positive social environment that promotes success and acknowledges their achievements and positive actions.
Hope trains youth to be community educators, advocates and leaders, and gives them the skills and self-confidence they need to make changes in their own lives, their neighborhoods, and beyond.
By finding peaceful and effective solutions to violence and prejudice and encouraging their peers to do the same, Hope participants help to build safer communities and stronger families. For more information, click here.
Street Law Accomplishments So Far
Spring 2013 marks the sixth year of the Street Law program at New York Law School. The program has inspired and motivated students to work hard and aim high. Last year, MS 22 students mastered challenging material covering Fourth and First Amendment law and showcased their knowledge at moot court activities at the Fried Frank office or New York Law School.
Dwaine Price, a student participant, said, “I enjoyed every bit of the Street Law Program. I had fun while learning about the Fourth and First Amendment, and at the moot court was so happy that my group won the court officials over.”
The Street Law program is an important aspect of what is known as Law-Related Education (“LRE”). LRE is a process by which young students engage in a form of legal education and from those lessons, can learn to become better citizens. A federally funded study conducted in the early-1980s determined that, when properly implemented, LRE can lead to a reduction in violence and delinquency in youth. Street Law was one of several nationally known curricula used in that study.
An additional benefit of the program is, of course, the benefit it provides to law students. This program is a valuable professional development tool for law students, allowing them to master an area of substantive law, hone lawyering skills, and interact with the community and legal professionals. Participating in the Street Law program gives law students the chance to take their legal knowledge outside of the classroom. This program provides an excellent way to give back to the community and make use of one’s legal education beyond client representation. As a Street Law volunteer, students sharpen their teaching and communication skills.