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Community College

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

Street Law, Inc.’s community college course is an innovative, law-based civic learning program for community colleges. It prepares students for democratic practice and develops the skills necessary for workforce and civic success through a unique combination of classroom and community-based learning.

This community college program fits well into criminal justice, political science, sociology, legal studies/paralegal training, and business programs.

Street Law, Inc. developed teaching materials, led faculty development seminars, and established a growing network of partners to help bring this program to community colleges across the country.

Watch a three-minute program overview

Watch how the course has impacted students at Howard Community College

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related resources

Community College textbook

First Edition, 2012 Details


Lee Arbetman

executive director


While some community college students are being prepared for law-related careers through law enforcement or paralegal training programs, there is no focus on preparing all students for meaningful democratic engagement. Community colleges are the fastest growing, most diverse segment of the higher education market, which leaves millions of students without the preparation to become active participants in our democratic society. 

Street Law’s Community College Program provides a fresh, new, and comprehensive framework for students to become more active participants in our dynamic democratic society. Students study law and public policy issues that affect them in their daily lives and are challenged to identify and propose solutions for everyday problems that they, their families, or their communities may face.

The program combines classroom and community-based learning.

  • Inside the classroom: Activities cover the evaluation, debate, and critical analysis of legal issues that affect individuals, their families, and communities. Students develop a practical understanding of the U.S. legal system while learning aspects of criminal, constitutional, family, immigration, and consumer law.
  • Outside the classroom: Community-based, experiential learning includes a range of activities—from individual and group projects to internships in courthouses and legal services offices. The community-based component complements the classroom instruction, deepens learning, and encourages civic engagement.

Benefits and Skill Development

Both the classroom and community program components provide opportunities for students to meet legal system professionals and explore careers in the legal profession. 

The program develops a variety of civic engagement skills that are interconnected with the following workforce development skills:

  • ability to work effectively in diverse groups
  • oral communication
  • listening
  • creative thinking
  • public problem solving
  • leadership
  • advocacy

Classroom instruction includes the use of case studies, simulated legal exercises, small group exercises, and analytical thought problems to develop higher level thinking skills that prepare students for rigorous college course work in other areas.

Colleges piloting the program during the 2011–2012 academic year surveyed students at the end of the course. Preliminary results show that students believe the program has accomplished the following:

  • increased their ability to advocate for themselves
  • increased their likelihood of completing college
  • increased their interest in law-related careers


The Course

Street Law’s community college course is designed to be credit-bearing and transferable and may be cross listed under political science, sociology, criminal justice, or business. It is not designed to replace courses that are part of paralegal training or administration of justice career preparation programs. 

This community college program is ideal for faculty interested in legal issues, innovative teaching methods, and integrating community learning. 

Street Law offers technical assistance to community college professors wishing to start a Street Law program. Assistance includes course syllabi, proposals for academic credit, and linkage to community resources.     


The Textbook

Street Law: Understanding Law and Legal Issues is an informative law-based, civic learning text for use in the community college program. The text promotes civic involvement by providing practical information about areas of the law that affect the daily lives of all U.S. residents and activities that develop analytic and advocacy skills. 

The text introduces students to fundamental civil, criminal, and constitutional law principles, and provides a platform for guided discussion of important public policy issues concerning crime, discrimination, health care, and immigration.

Street Law: Understanding Law and Legal Issues is published by Street Law’s long-time publishing partner, McGraw-Hill Education.

This flexible curriculum adapts to emphasize the priorities of individual campuses. McGraw-Hill Education offers the option of a customized text which includes only the chapters selected by the instructor.

An online instructor’s manual is available to purchasers.

Ordering Information

ISBN: 978-0-07-662405-8

To order the text using McGraw-Hill Education's Create™ platform, please send your request to

Street Law, Inc. does not sell or distribute review copies of the textbook. 


Faculty Development Seminars

Street Law staff conducts seminars for professors interested in starting a Street Law course at their community colleges. The seminars expose participants to the program elements, curriculum materials, and recommended teaching strategies. Participants develop an understanding of course outcomes and how the course aligns with individual community college priorities.

Seminar participants get exclusive access to additional program resources, student recruitment materials, and an online network connecting Street Law-trained faculty. 


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Participating Community Colleges

The following community colleges have offered the Street Law program:

Community colleges in other states are in the process of adding this course to their curriculum.



Street Law’s work with community colleges in the Chicagoland area is supported by Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Street Law partners nationally with The Democracy Commitment to bring high-quality civic learning programs to community colleges.
Street Law partners with the American Bar Association's Division for Public Education to deliver this program in the Chicagoland area.
ABA Division for Public Education logo