Street Law Special Projects
The Street Law Program is accentuated by several special projects. These projects allow greater interaction with the legal community and the DC community. Special projects also give our high school participants the opportunity to show off their accomplishments throughout the course.
Another outstanding feature of the Street Law course is the Mentor program, in which each Street Law class is paired with a law firm or legal organization. The Street Law Program partners with the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs through Kent Withycombe, Esq., Director of the WLC's Public Education Project.
- First, in cooperation with the law student instructor and the WLC's Public Education Project, representatives from the firm or organization visit the class to teach about certain aspects of the law in which the firm or organization is involved.
- Second, the firm or organization takes the students on a field trip to a law-related activity it is connected to, such as a visit to a Superior Court trial, a Congressional hearing, or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Third, the firm or organization invites the students to a visit to the firm or organization itself, where the students learn about the operations of a law firm/agency, observe potential careers from legal secretary to lawyer, and perhaps examine the development of a case in some detail.
- Fourth, the Mentor firm or organization assists the class to prepare for the mock trial competition. This is typically the most extensive and intensive assistance provided by the Mentors
Each Spring, the Street Law Program holds a Mock Trial Tournament. This tournament pits teams of students from District of Columbia high schools against each other in a test of advocacy.
Coached by their law student instructors and lawyers from mentor law firms, the high school students prepare over a six week period to be lawyers and witnesses in a complex and controversial case. During that time, they master the facts, analyze the witness statements, statutes, case law and documents, hone their oral skills, practice courtroom procedures, and master trial skills and rules of evidence. The contestants litigate a hypothetical lawsuit based on a complex scenario composed by the clinic staff. Superior Court judges, local attorneys and law students volunteer their time to serve as judges and scorers.
The two preliminary rounds of the competition are held at the Superior Court in the District of Columbia. Approximately 400 students in up to 40 teams from all street law classes participate in the tournament. Over 400 parents, teachers, principals, and friends have observed the trials each night. The final round of the tournament takes place at the Georgetown University Law Center.
Since 2011, the Street Law Program has partnered with the D.C. Human Rights Commission and Chief Judge David Simmons. During fall semester, Street Law classes around the district a three part unit on Human Rights involving: 1) learning and activities focusing on global human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2) the D.C. Human Rights Act, and 3) preparation of projects for a multimedia contest centering around the theme of the DC Human Rights Act. Contestants submit poetry, rap, visual art, music, comics, sculpture, and other demonstratives to show their unique and thorough understanding and interpretation of the statute and how it applies to their lives in the District. The projects are displayed at Georgetown University Law Center, where prizes are awarded during Human Rights celebration. Finalists subsequently attend a reception sponsored by the D.C. Human Rights Commission. In 2015, over 250 high school students participated in the competition.