What is Law-Related Education ?
The Law-Related Education Act of 1978
According to the Law-Related Education Act of 1978, Law Related Education (LRE) is “education to equip non-lawyers with the knowledge and skills pertaining to the law, the legal process, and the legal system, and fundamental principles and values on which these are based.” The U.S. Department of Education regulations supporting the Act add that LRE helps students “respond effectively to the law and legal issues in our complex and changing society.”
Law-Related Education in 2014
Today, LRE comprises a rich and varied offering of programs for all grade levels K-12. These programs share a common goal of promoting the knowledge, skills, and values students must have in order to function effectively in a society defined by its democratic institutions, pluralism, and the rule of law. LRE strives to develop the active knowledgeable citizens a democratic society requires: those who can understand, live in, and contribute positively to the civic communities to which they belong.
Law-Related Education encompasses a variety of programs for students in grades K-12, designed to teach students about the law, the legal system and the fundamental principles upon which our constitutional democracy is based. Activities are intended to foster partnerships between schools and attorneys who volunteer their time for educational purposes.
The following are common elements of effective programs and services that serve the purposes of law related education:
• Programs focus on concepts fundamental to our constitutional democracy and to the structure and functioning of other societies.
• Programs offer active learning experiences that permit students to explore their rights and responsibilities, resolve disputes, or analyze public policy.
• Programs develop skills and dispositions essential to effective civic participation
Various approaches to law related education should:
• Provide instruction in government, history, law, and democracy.
• Incorporate discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events into the classroom.
• Provide students with the opportunity to apply what they learn through performing community service.
• Provide students with interactive, experiential opportunities to learn about the law through cases studies, mock trials, moot courts, simulations and role-plays.
• Offer extracurricular activities that provide opportunities for young people to get involved in their schools or communities.
• Encourage student participation in school governance.
• Encourage students’ participation in simulations of democratic processes and procedures.
Isidore Starr, a lawyer, and educator, taught social studies in the New York Public Schools. In the late 1950’s he authored a series of articles for educators encouraging them to use the case study method he had learned in law school to make the study of public issues more lively, interesting and engaging for social studies students. This series sparked a decades long joint educational undertaking of lawyers and educators. Long considered the “father of law-related education,” Dr. Starr has authored many articles and books about LRE.
This web site collects the many resources developed over the last 50 years and provides current thought leadership to the educational and legal communities. Students and the public will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
The site is directed by three recipients of the American Bar Association Isidore Starr Award for Excellence in Law-Related Education .