Street Law’s impact is great, but our beginnings were modest. In 1972, a small group of visionary law students at Georgetown University Law Center developed an experimental curriculum to teach District of Columbia high school students about law and the legal system. The lessons were an immediate success, and, responding to their practical nature, the high school students called them “Street Law.” The name stuck.
The efforts of our founding law students launched a movement to teach ordinary people about law and government using student-centered, interactive teaching methods.
Street Law, Inc. was born from this movement and has been a leader in the field for more than five decades.
- In 1972, Georgetown University law students taught the first Street Law lessons to students at Woodrow Wilson and Eastern High Schools in the District of Columbia.
Building on the success of these early programs, Street Law, Inc. proliferated the model of law students teaching in schools and communities. It has been adopted by 200 law schools around the globe!
- In 1975, the first national edition of the Street Law textbook was published.
The textbook—authored by Street Law, Inc. and currently in its 10th edition—has been has been adopted by hundreds of school districts from coast to coast.
- In 1978, Street Law, Inc. pioneered the concept of teaching young people in the juvenile justice system about law and democracy.
What started as a court-based program has evolved into the Legal Life Skills Program, which today empowers vulnerable populations with the legal life skills to navigate their everyday lives.
- In 1986, Street Law, Inc. introduced our model of practical education about democracy, law, and human rights to apartheid-era South Africa, seeding a movement that has brought Street Law programming to 45 countries around the globe.
- Also in 1986, Street Law, Inc. began bringing together young people and law enforcement officers to build relationships while learning about the law.
- In 1995, Street Law, Inc. conducted the first Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers in partnership with the Supreme Court Historical Society.Today, Street Law, Inc. is recognized as a nationwide leader in curricular resources and teacher training about the U.S. Supreme Court. And our teacher professional development programs have expanded to provide instruction about fundamental topics in government and law, including the legal and judicial systems, the U.S. Constitution, rule of law, and federalism.
- Between 1997 and 2001, our work outside of the United States grew exponentially. Funding from the Open Society Institute and the Ford Foundation brought Street Law programs, methods, and curricula to high schools and law schools throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
- In 2003, Street Law, Inc. launched the Legal Diversity Pipeline Program to create opportunities for law firms and corporate legal departments to teach and inspire high school students who are often underrepresented in the legal profession. The first program site was with the McDonald’s law department.
Since launching in 2001, more than 120 corporations, law firms, and Association of Corporate Counsel chapters have participated in the program, often as a component of their organization’s broader diversity or CSR efforts.
- In 2015, Street Law partnered with a well-known education publisher to play a lead role in improving and co-authoring a new a high school government text—United States Government: Our Democracy.The text has been widely adopted by school districts across the country, and the third edition is poised for release. The text is innovative in its focus on interactive activities that help students build critical civic skills and practice democracy.
- In 2018, in response to an increasingly polarized political atmosphere in the United States, Street Law, Inc. doubled down on initiatives to prepare teachers to master the use of deliberative discussion in their classrooms and communities—equipping young people with the skills to successfully engage in civil discourse and build positive relationships across differences.Street Law’s programs continue to build bridges across differences, enabling thousands of young people to lead productive conversations about contested political issues.
- Throughout the early 2020s, Street Law, Inc. worked in Jordan on a series of projects to empower Jordanians to shape, impact, and advocate for a thriving society that abides by the rule of law.
Recognizing the need for strengthened rule of law education at home as well as abroad, in 2021 Street Law developed a curriculum for American middle and high school students on rule of law in the United States.