Street Law benefits everyone—law students, the law school, and the community! Explaining these benefits can help generate key support for the program at your law school and the larger community.
Benefits for Law Students
The primary reason to start a Street Law program is to provide law students with a unique and powerful professional development opportunity. Participating law students learn substantive law, develop professional skills, and participate in a unique community service experience.
In addition, participation in Street Law during law school has proven to be a powerful resume builder and networking opportunity for law students. Street Law is a highly recognized brand in the legal community. Since 1972, tens of thousands of lawyers have participated in Street Law programs around the world and have an affinity for others who have taken part in our programs.
Hear first-hand from two Seattle Law School students about the benefits of participating in a Street Law program.
Law student instructors develop a mastery of the legal content they will be teaching, including the human rights and democratic values upon which a legal system should be based. Law students also prepare their students to analyze public policy issues and advocate for change through lawful means.
- Communication skills: Law student instructors must explain legal concepts in terms understandable to the general public and facilitate effective communication among large groups. Teaching also requires law students to organize a lesson plan and think quickly on their feet.
- Decision-making: Law student instructors decide what to teach, which methods to employ, how to cover a complicated topic in a limited time, and how to meet students’ needs.
- Time management and organization skills: In teaching and preparing for classroom visits, law students must budget their time, meet deadlines, and handle a multitude of tasks.
- Professional boundaries: The relationship between the law student instructors and their students, in many fundamental ways, resembles the relationship between the attorney and client. In both, the law students need to establish trust, explain complicated laws to a non-lawyer, and set appropriate limits. It is essential that law students never provide legal advice to their students!
- Exposure to other professionals: Law students gain experience working with other professionals, including teachers, law enforcement officers, judges, lawyers, and other legal content experts. They gain an understanding and appreciation for the expertise of others and develop important collaboration skills.
- Leadership skills: As the leaders in the classroom, law students are held accountable to select content and methods that are engaging to students. Law students also develop a heightened understanding of the importance of being able to explain law in ways that everyday people can understand.
- The impact of laws on the community: Law students learn how laws impact their students’ lives and the strengths and weaknesses of the legal system. This insight sensitizes them to crucial public policy issues and concerns.
- A range of career opportunities: Law students are exposed to a wide range of careers and develop skills applicable to a variety of fields. Many law students have reported prospective employers are interested in Street Law—participating in this program is a positive, distinguishing element in a job application/interview.
Benefits for the Law School
Law schools with mission statements built on knowledge, professionalism, social responsibility, and service will see Street Law as an opportunity to reinforce legal education and prepare students for a lifetime of public service.
A Street Law program at your law school can help
- Fulfill common pro bono or public service requirements
- Satisfy professional skills requirements
- Motivate law students who benefit from different learning styles
- Develop new relationships with private foundations, alumni, the bar, and bench through the involvement of interdisciplinary professionals
- Provide alumni with opportunities to become involved as a classroom guest or by hosting field trip to a law firm or other legal institution. Not only do these activities renew ties to the law school, but they also increase the likelihood that the alumni will donate to the law school!
- Recruit prospective students to the law school through its presence in the community and by differentiating it from law schools without Street Law programs
- Attract a more diverse pool of future applicants by exposing high school students to the legal profession
Benefits for the Community
A Street Law program benefits the community by
- Providing the public with essential legal information to help them navigate through our law-saturated society and develop skills to improve their lives and strengthen their communities
- Creating positive role models for middle school and high school students
- Reducing delinquency among participating youths
- Reinforcing in law students the importance of community service
- Addressing the need for diversity within the law school applicant pool and legal profession at large through career-focused lessons and teaching activities