Law High Schools
I’ve been searching around for pre-college legal curriculum. When is law taught to young people in America, other than in pre-law classes in university?
I took a Civics class in my public high school, which reviewed some basic First Amendment rights, and was oriented around the rights of young people. It was enjoyable enough, but also taught by the school’s gym coach and not taught with much rigor or expectation.
In my basic Internet searches, I’ve found there are a handful of new Legal-oriented charter schools popping up around the States. The schools’ websites are fairly limited, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what kind of legal curriculum they are teaching, or what methods and tools they use to do so. I’m excited by the promise of youth-oriented legal education.
California has two legal charter schools — Pacific Law Academy in Stockton, and Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep in Sacramento. The schools were created in partnership with University of Pacific Benerd School of Education and Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Natomas was founded in 2006, and some of its law courses are developed along with the McGeorge law professors, including topics on the foundations of law and criminal law.
Chicago’s Legal Prep Charter Academies is a legal-themed high school that opened in August 2012 with 200 freshman students enrolled. It’s located in South Side Chicago, in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. It will be adding a grade per year until it has 4 grades with 800 students.
Legal Prep’s mission is to prepare Chicago’s youth to succeed in college and in life. Through a rigorous curriculum and a culture of high expectations, Legal Prep will empower its students to achieve their full potential. Legal Prep will focus on the skills that all great lawyers possess: excellent written and oral communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and advocacy. While not all of our students will go on to be lawyers, all students will gain an appreciation and respect for the law. These “21st century skills” will prepare students for success in any number of postsecondary paths.
To help accomplish, Legal Prep is working with the entire Chicago legal community and other area businesses to provide the resources and exposure to our students so that they know that they can excel in college and pursue a legal education. There are numerous ways for corporate legal departments, law firms, bar associations, and individual attorneys to be involved so please let us know if you are interested in supporting Legal Prep or would like to learn more about the school.
It does not have an explicit list of the courses it offers, but the school says that it will prioritize legal topics in education.
Legal Prep will offer its students a college prep curriculum with legal topics infused into the core subjects, where appropriate. Legal Prep will also provide law-themed courses and extra-curricular activities. The legal content is a way in which students can learn and hone their writing skills and oral presentation skills, as well as apply logic, analysis, and critical thinking to legal issues. Law curriculum uses strategies that engage students in learning, foster civic participation, and promote meaningful relationships with professionals.
Diverse attorneys are vastly underrepresented in the legal profession – only 11% of attorneys are diverse, compared to 36% of the U.S. population. Legal Prep presents an exciting way to increase the pipeline of diverse students to the legal profession. Legal Prep will not only provide exposure to the legal profession and attorney support, but also prepare students for the rigors of college and professional life.