Social Justice through Legal Education: My first week at Legal Outreach, Inc.

My first week as an intern at Legal Outreach, Inc., in Long Island City, New York has been been filled with exciting and important work and interaction with many incredible individuals. Legal Outreach, Inc., is a legal education non-profit organization that has been successfully teaching and preparing urban youth from underserved communities all over New York City since 1983. The organization does so through its various college preparatory programs, many of which emphasize the law and developing an understanding and appreciation of the legal system. The program that I will specifically be working with is the Summer Law Institute (SLI).

Legal Outreach, Inc. Website

 

The Legal Outreach Logo
The Legal Outreach Logo

 

Legal Outreach’s SLI is held in partnership with six different law schools in New York City from the end of June to the end of July. In each law school, there are about 22-30 rising ninth graders who were selected from a pool of applicants for this program. At each law school where the SLI is held, there are two co-coordinators who are current law school students and an intern. Together, these three are the instructors for each SLI and are responsible for teaching the students and managing their SLI.

Legal Outreach, Inc. Office (Source: Google Maps)
Legal Outreach, Inc. Office (Source: Google Maps)

At SLI, students are engaged in a criminal justice legal course and gain an understanding of the legal system and how laws are applied. Almost every day of the week, there is a guest attorney speaker and weekly field trips to law firms and other legal sites. At the end of the program is a mock trial competition which takes place in front of a real judge. The aim of SLI is to help these students grow academically and personally to give them the confidence and skills for success in high school, college, and beyond.

Legal Outreach Celebrating 30 Years (source: http://legaloutreach.org/?page_id=16)

My main responsibilities as the SLI intern at Columbia Law School include both administrative duties, to ensure that the program runs smoothly, and teaching lessons. The administrative duties include preparing handbooks and ID cards for the students, inviting the guest speakers, ensuring that parents and students complete necessary forms, and booking field trips. This is all to make sure that the technical and structural aspects of the program are intact, so that in the end of June when SLI commences, everything is ready.

My teaching responsibilities include developing four lesson plans that will be presented to the students during SLI. The first two will be on study skills and essay writing, which will be useful for the students in studying for their weekly exams and writing their assigned essays. Since part of the purpose of the program is to prepare these students for high school, these skills will be particularly important and assist them in achieving academic excellence.

Through my administrative and teaching responsibilities, I will play an important role in making sure that the SLI runs smoothly so that the students get the most out of the program. I will also, through my role, be able to accomplish the learning goals I had set coming into this internship. For example, through the training exercises and meetings we have been doing, as well as through actually teaching the lessons later on, I will be able to develop stronger communication and public speaking skills. At the same time, through my administrative duties, I will improve my research and writing skills as I communicate with potential guest speakers and develop lesson plans. Likewise, by working in a legal environment with colleagues who are in law school and supervisors who are attorneys, I have the unique opportunity to further explore my interest in having a career in the legal field. I look forward to the days to come and for the SLI to begin.

– Aditi Shah ’17

 

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