Kids’ Court Benefits to Law Students
- Pro-Bono Hours- Volunteering with Kids’ Court can serve as a fun and interesting way to fulfill the pro bono hour requirements that many law schools require. Kids’ Court also helps to ground law students in the commitment to professional and civic responsibilities that come with being members of the bar.
- Practicing and developing essential lawyering skills– Teaching a group of elementary school students may not seem much like being a lawyer, but many of the skills that are critical to becoming an excellent lawyer are also critical to being an excellent Kids’ Court teacher.
Simplifying complex legal issues and processes: In order to translate some of the more complex aspects of our legal system to 5th and 6th graders, law students must demonstrate mastery of the topics and the ability to abridge the concept to the point where an individual with no legal training can readily understand it. Also, practical processes, such as the steps in a trial, become real for law students as they take the elementary students through mock versions of different legal processes and procedures.
Building attorney/client relationships: To excel as a Kids’ Court teacher, a law student must be able to effectively build relationships with the elementary school students. The relationships with the elementary school students require a balance of trust, professionalism, openness, honesty and boundaries just like any effective attorney/client relationship demands.
Communication skills: Being a Kids’ Court teacher is all about communication. Nuances of excellent communication like the ability to make eye contact with a group, body language, volume, and inflection have to be constantly balanced and tweaked throughout the course of a lesson in order to remain in control of the classroom, to hold attention, and to convey information to the students. Perfecting these skills comes only with practice, and teaching Kids’ Court can be a rare opportunity to practice the skills while still in school.
Time management: Law students have to balance out busy calendars to find the time to volunteer. Moreover, in the classroom, law student teachers have to effectively manage discussions, brain breaks, activities, tangents and sometimes unruly children while still executing a lesson plan in a 2 hour period. Like communication skills, time management skills involve a lot of nuance that can only be mastered with experience.
Analyzing on your feet: Law students are taught to train their minds into sharp tools for analytical reasoning, but in law school there is the luxury of time. In practice, lawyers have to think on their feet, and use their analytical skills at a fast pace to zealously represent their clients. Kids’ Court teachers are forced to use their analytical skills equally as quickly. Whether to analyze how to proceed in different situations in the classroom, or to analyze questions or problems that the students may pose, when there is a large group of elementary school students waiting on guidance, law student teachers master fast pace analysis very quickly.
- A break from studying!- Let’s face it, law school can seem to be a rat race at times, and it is often extremely stressful. Volunteering with Kids’ Court is an excellent way to put the books aside, and let loose for a little bit. Interacting with the elementary and secondary school students is refreshing and energizing, not to mention the self esteem boost that comes from watching the young students grow and learn under your instruction.
- Exposure- Kids’ Court gives law students exposure to so many important aspects of the community. Exposure to the children, to teachers, to other professionals integral in providing a complete program for the elementary students, and people from other departments of a University, are just a small portion of the people who law students will be exposed to while volunteering with Kids’ Court. Furthermore, law students will be exposed to processes, procedures, places, and resources that may otherwise go unnoticed. Equally as important, law students are introducing and making a name for themselves in the community as well, and networking is a major key to the success of any attorney.
Kids’ Court’s Benefits to the Law School/University
- Promotes well-rounded social-minded attorneys.
- Increases the ties between a school and its surrounding communities.
- Increases the perception of the school in the eyes of the community.
- Helps to ensure that universities and law schools have diverse student populations by encouraging and inspiring young students to take an early interest in higher education.
- Develops partnerships between different departments within a university, with other organizations and even private foundations that bolsters and encourages opportunities for fundraising and appeal to donors.
Kids’ Court’s Benefits to the Community
- Promotes appreciation for the rule of law, and instills a sense of community, and civic responsibility in all those who are involved.
- Discourages delinquency while encouraging positive life choices to help build a strong foundation for elementary age children.
- Creates chains of mentors through leaders in the community who support the project, the law students who run the project, and the elementary school students who participate.
- Supports public education.
- Increases knowledge about available resources, particularly those resources related to legal problems.