What Is law related education (LRE)?
Law related education is an amalgam of programs, curricula, training, presentations, and technical assistance provided through the Law Related Education (LRE) Division at the South Carolina Bar. LRE programs teach students about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. LRE provides students with active learning opportunities that foster their understanding of the role of law in a democratic society. Students learn about laws, the legal system, and how both affect their lives. LRE also stresses the use of outside resource people and the application of LRE to real life situations. These programs increase critical thinking and problem solving skills; debating skills; respect for justice and authority; public speaking; self identity and confidence; what it means to be a participatory citizen; and so much more. Most LRE programs are available K-12.
The South Carolina Bar’s Law Related Education (LRE) Division has many options for attorneys to volunteer their time while making a difference in the community as a whole. All volunteer hours are honored with recognition in eBlast and the Bar magazine in addition to pro bono hours. For additional information or to volunteer, contact Cynthia H. Cothran at (803) 576-3788 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mock Trial serves to provide students with an opportunity to practice and refine their debating and acting skills, along with allowing them to learn about courtroom procedure, decorum, and the rules of evidence. Students are provided a fictional case. They learn to prosecute and defend the case through attorney and witness roles. Then, students come to the competition and are judged on how well they perform. Based on results, some teams advance from one of the regional competitions to the state competition held two weeks later. The State High School Mock Trial championship team represents South Carolina at the national competition each year. (Catered meals are provided to Mock Trial volunteers.)
Middle School Mock Trial Competitions:
- November 4, 2017 – Regional Competition (Georgetown, Greenville, Lexington, and Sumter)
- December 1 & 2, 2017 - State Competition (Lexington)
High School Mock Trial Competitions:
- February 24, 2018 – Regional Competitions (Conway, Greenville, Lancaster, Lexington, North Charleston, and Sumter)
- March 9 and 10, 2018 - State Competition (Columbia) ** Volunteers do not have to volunteer both dates to help.
Scoring Judges - Judge students using scoring criteria and case materials provided by the LRE Division. Judges can volunteer for half or whole day.
Presiding Judges - Preside over the Mock Trial rounds and process. Presiding judges have experience serving as Mock Trial scoring judges and are knowledgeable of the Mock Trial competition rules.
Attorney Coaches - Serve as a coach for a middle school or a high school team. Attorney coaches work with teacher coaches on auditioning, practices, etc. The attorney coach can be the sole attorney coach for the team or work with a team of attorney coaches as it can help with scheduling and other responsibilities. Attorney coaches are not required to attend the competitions.
Case Writers - Work with the LRE Division in writing a fictional Mock Trial case to include pleadings, an introduction, six affidavits, and exhibits.
Art or Journal Judges - Receive entries via email immediately following the High School Mock Trial Regional and State competitions. Judges can pick to evaluate art entries and/or journal entries. Judging time has a 2.5 day window to complete a very simple scoring process. Judging can be done from a computer as all entries are scanned and emailed.
We the People: Project Citizen
A civic education program for upper elementary, middle, and high school students that promotes competent and responsible participation in state and local government. It actively engages students in learning how to monitor and influence public policy and encourages civic participation among students, their parents, and members of the community. Their class project is to design and develop a portfolio displaying their realistic proposal for public policy change either in their school, community, or state as a whole.
Scoring Judges - Judge students work by reading their presentations at a showcase where the entries will be on display at the SC Bar. Judges determine their arrival time and can judge as many entries as desired. Judging the first entry takes about an hour. Judging additional entries take approximately 40 minutes a piece. A lot of judges like to build this in around their lunch. A catered lunch is provided for those judging during lunch.
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution
The foundation of the We the People program is the classroom curriculum, which fosters attitudes that are necessary for students to participate as effective, responsible citizens. The culminating activity is a simulated congressional hearing in which students "testify" before a panel of judges. Through testifying, students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and have opportunities to evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.
- January 4, 2018 – Middle School State Competition - Columbia
- January 5, 2018 - High School State Competition - Columbia
Scoring Judges - Judge classes of students on various units of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. The judging format has a class of students responding in six minutes to two of the three questions picked by the scoring judges and four minutes of follow-up questions posed by the scoring judges. (Students will have prepared for three questions provided to them prior to the competition.) Judges can pick from any of the six units or be randomly assigned to a unit. (see units below) Judges will receive a copy of the curricular materials and the three questions assigned for each unit to assist with judging preparation. Judging can be done as a whole or half day. Catered meals are provided.
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution Unit Guide
Unit 1: What Are the Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System?
This unit covers the founders thoughts on Constitutional Government, civic life, historical developments on individual rights, and reasons that the colonists desired separation from Great Britain.
Unit 2: How Did the Framers Create the Constitution?
Topics in this unit include the Articles of Confederation, the Philadelphia Convention, formation of the three branches of government, the Federalist, and Anti-Federalist positions.
Unit 3: How Has the Constitution Been Changed to Further the Ideals Contained in the Declaration of Independence?
This unit deals with the changes that subsequent amendments to the Constitution, Judicial Review, political parties, due process, and equal protection have had upon the Constitution.
Unit 4: How Have the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices?
This unit covers the roles and relevance of the three branches of American Constitutional government as well as the system of American Federalism.
Unit 5: What Rights Does the Bill of Rights Protect?
Topics covered by unit 5 pertain to the Bill of Rights, and specifically the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment protections for the citizenry against the powers of government.
Unit 6: What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the Twenty-first Century?
The final unit of the text delves into the issues of what it means to be a citizen, to be civically engaged, how the Civil Rights movements have created change, and what modern challenges face America both at home and abroad.
Additional Volunteer Roles with LRE
Answer Questions Anonymously
LawForKids.org and Law for Teachers has on-line forums allowing questions to be posted about the law. Volunteers can answer the questions from a computer. Volunteers let LRE know the area of law most preferred to assign questions in that area of law. Repeat questions are not forwarded to volunteers. Overall, there may be ten new questions a month distributed on a rotation basis as to not overwhelm any one volunteer. Answers are relating the law so that the individual can understand. Answers do not contain advice.
Develop Education Materials
Help LRE create materials to be used in hard copy or electronic format to use in the classroom. Materials could include lessons, mock trial cases, etc.
Teach in the Classroom
Teachers are always looking for an attorney volunteer to come and speak to their students enhancing a lesson on the Constitution, Law Day, etc. Teachers are very willing to work around attorney’s schedules. New this year, attorneys have access to Law for Young Adults (an online resource) that can be introduced to seniors getting ready to turn 18 as it educates them on the laws they are getting ready to face as an adult. There are a variety of resources attorneys can access for the classroom (see below). In addition, while supplies last LRE has coloring books, crayons, pencils, and brochures for the classroom.
Speak for Career Day (April), Constitution Day (September), and/or Law Day (May)
Help students have a better understanding of a career in law and law in general (Constitution Day or Law Day). Career Day presentations vary from elementary to high school.
Serve on the LRE Committee
Serve on the LRE Committee and have an impact on law related education throughout the state. LRE Committee members primarily participate in a sub-committee to include awards/scholarships, We the People (both programs), Mock Trial (all levels), Law For Teachers, and LawForKids.org.