Citizen Schools/Discovering Justice: Legal Apprenticeship Program

A ten-week alternative educational opportunity for Boston Public School students providing them with an opportunity to learn about the legal profession directly from legal professionals. The City of Boston Legal Department has participated in the program for the past 10 years. A group of 10-15 middle school students attend 90 minute classes once per week taught via interactive and creative lesson plans that provide students with a solid legal foundation upon which to prepare their Mock Trial or Appellate argument. Previously a mock trial program (up to Spring 2013), the new program transforms middle school students into appellate lawyers. Students delve into the Bill of Rights, explore how constitutional protections apply in public school, and grapple with the complexities of balancing the rights of individuals with the safety and welfare needs of communities. The program concludes with students arguing before an Appellate Panel of a judge and two senior attorneys and an Appellate Council of community members in a real courtroom at the Moakley U.S. Courthouse. The program hones students’ critical thinking, writing, and public speaking skills while positively engaging them in the justice system. It aims at making academic learning relevant, turning students on to future career opportunities, and build student’s confidence in the power of their own voices.