Since 2013 over 3,000 transition year students have completed the Law Society’s Street Law programme. Street Law is an initiative which places trainee solicitors studying at the Law Society in local schools to teach law in a practical way. Originally developed in Georgetown University in the United States, the Street Law programme has been run by the Law Society for the last six years. Each year, over 40 volunteer trainee solicitors participate. As part of the programme, the trainee solicitors attend an orientation weekend which prepares them to teach the Street Law course to Transition Year students at partnering DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) schools in the local community. This year’s Street Law orientation weekend took place from 20-22 September and was facilitated by Professor Richard Roe and Melinda Cooperman from Georgetown University. The trainee solicitors will start teaching the programme in local DEIS schools later this month.
Trainee solicitor April Rose Byrne taught at her former school, Coláiste Bríde, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 and said she was surprised at the students’ knowledge, interest and enthusiasm. “Although they were not legally old enough to vote they had so many views on past referendums,” she said. “They were full of ‘what ifs’ and ‘how comes’ which was refreshing and allowed for further and more in-depth discussions. They cared about topics we studied, especially the ones that directly affected them, such as consent.” Street Law allows the school students to see how the law affects their daily lives and helps promote lifelong civic engagement. “One of the key benefits of the programme for the students is that it gave them a chance to hear about real cases and find out about how the law is practically applied in real life,” said Ms Banda. “We covered issues such as the fragility of jury selection, prejudices, the media’s role and the restorative nature of the criminal justice system.”