Street Law program at Elon helps teens experience the practice of law
On April 24, thirty freshman from Guilford County’s Walter Hines Page High School participated in mock trials in the Robert E. Long Court Room at Elon University School of Law, as the culminating experience of their three month introduction to trial advocacy taught by students from Elon Law.
The experience was part of the law school’s Street Law course, helping second and third year law students refine their own understanding of legal concepts through teaching, while also providing an important educational opportunity for high school students in the region.
Page High School students presented opening and closing statements during their mock trials, questioned witnesses and conducted cross examinations, served as jurors and witnesses, and deliberated over questions of factual and circumstantial evidence.
Jeff Dodson, one of the law students who has worked with Page High School students since February, said, “Preparing course materials for high school students has been a great way to revisit concepts I learned through coursework at the law school. It’s been rewarding to interact with young people, offering them something that could inspire their interest in the study of law for years to come.”
Elon law student Rheanna Gaskin, who also taught the Page High School students over the past three months, said, “They did an incredible job, not only learning a number of concepts in legal advocacy, but also planning their strategies for the mock trial. I was impressed with how seriously they treated the project and I think many of them will continue to explore and study the law as a result.”
A similar set of mock trials is planned for students from Guilford County’s James Benson Dudley High School on April 30 at the law school, under the instruction of law students Ann Nastasi and Keayba Worthington.
Additional Elon Law students participating in the Street Law program include Jacqueline Adams Ledford, Jennifer Bowden, Damon Duncan, Melissa Duncan, Jameson Marks, Clinton Moore, David Morrow, and Erin O’Connell. Collectively, they are reaching hundreds of students throughout the Guilford County School system.
The Street Law course was taught this semester by adjunct faculty Larry Brown, Assistant District Attorney for Alamance County, North Carolina, and by Diane Wright, Director of Law-Related Education at the North Carolina Bar Association.
Elon law professor Steve Friedland, who directed a street law program for a decade and sponsored Elon's program, said the project was part of the law school’s larger emphasis on engaged learning, “We believe our students learn more and contribute more when they get involved in the life of the city on a number of levels. Street Law encourages law students to learn by doing and by taking actions that benefit others.”
Street Law is offered at Elon Law in partnership with the North Carolina Bar Association’s Law-Related Education Advisory Committee, of which Professor Friedland is a member.