Street Law, Inc.: Context, History and Future

Lee Arbetman

Abstract


In 1972, a small group of Georgetown University law students developed a series of practical law lessons for use with public high school students in Washington, D.C. These visionaries recognized that ordinary citizens—not just lawyers—needed a basic understanding of practical law in order to take on civic responsibilities. The lessons were popular with the high school students and with their law student teachers. Responding to their practical nature, the high school students called these lessons “Street Law.” The name stuck.


A pilot program in two local high schools in 1972–73 launched a movement—first in the United States but eventually around the world—to teach the public about law and public policy using learner-centered, interactive teaching methods. Today, Street Law programs can be found in every state in the U.S. and in more than 40 countries around the world.


Propelling this global movement to advance justice through practical education about law and democracy is Street Law, Inc., a Washington, D.C. area non-profit organization that is an outgrowth of the early Street Law program at Georgetown University Law Center. That pilot effort has also grown into a full-fledged, credit-bearing experiential education program at Georgetown that has served as a model program for more than 120 law schools across the country and around the world. Nearly 1,000 upper division Georgetown Law students have participated in this program since its inception. Many have gone on to positions as law firm partners, corporate counsel, government officials in the U.S. and abroad, and even members of the federal court bench. They have taken from their law school experience a commitment to public education about law and democracy.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19164/ijple.v2i1.705

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