Week-long 'Law and Justice Summer Program' will inspire, enlighten high school students

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Mar 31, 2016

High school students participate in last year's mock trial.
High school students participate in last year's mock trial.

The "Law and Justice Summer Program" at the UH Law School has been awarded a $2,400 grant to help as many as two dozen high school students experience law and legal education up close, including taking classes with law professors, working with current law students, and conducting their own mock trial.

The Student Equity Excellence Diversity (SEED) grant will help defray costs for the June 6-10, 2016 program at the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa, so public high school students can learn first-hand about the court system and legal issues.

This is the second year the Law School will open its doors for a week in the summer to public high school students for an immersive learning experience.

During the program last year, students from five different high schools sat in on a Circuit Court trial, had lunch at a law firm, visited the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court, and met a panel of legislators, as well as the Governor, at the State Capitol.  They were mentored and coached by current law students and taught by faculty, judges and practicing attorneys.

The summer program on the Law School campus will provide busing, and breakfast and lunch for 20-24 students. The program launched last year.

“It’s geared for rising 11th and 12th grade students, because this program could have an impact on their aspirations and college choices,” said Associate Faculty Specialist Liam Skilling ’07, who serves as the Director of the Evening Part Time Program and Academic Success at the Law School. “It provides engaging civic education that may be absent from the normal high school curriculum. We believe that the program makes complex issues of law and justice accessible, and this in turn could encourage the participating students to consider a legal education or law-related careers.”

The Law School has begun to publicize the summer program and already has received applicants from the Waianae coast and ‘Ewa areas, as well as from Farrington High. In the past the Law School has worked closely with Farrington, Waipahu, Roosevelt, Campbell and Mililani high schools.

“Our law students who mentor and coach the high school students are part of the Students for Public Outreach and Civic Education (SPOCE) group,” said Skilling. “The SPOCE students also help with the courts in the community program, in which the Hawai’i Supreme Court hears actual cases at local public high schools. Our law students also teach street law lessons and lessons on First Amendment rights around the state.”

Skilling said that high school students last year raved about the program.  They especially enjoyed running their own trial, and being able to meet both Governor David Ige and Hawai‘i Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, and several other justices. Reported Skilling, “One student said, ‘The mock trial seemed intimidating at first, but experiencing it firsthand was really fun!’”

In addition to the SEED grant, the Law School is seeking added funding for the program, as well as long-term funding to be able to continue it in future summers.

For more information about the program, send an email to Skilling at lskillin@hawaii.edu.

For more information, visit: https://www.law.hawaii.edu/