The San Diego County Bar Association recently invited K-12 students to submit posters and videos reflecting their thoughts on Law Week 2022 — “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change.” The results may surprise and delight you.
The California Lawyers Association reached out to the San Diego bar to learn more about the contest and its evolution since it began in the 1970s.
Director of Public Service Programs Michelle Chavez said the contest is one of the most straightforward yet most effective and enjoyable activities the bar does.
“You get to see how the young minds work,” she said. “It’s fun to see what they take from the theme. Plus, there are some beautiful artists out there. Our contest showcases the students and their talents.”
The contest takes its theme from the American Bar Association’s Law Day public education program. For entries, the San Diego bar taps a list of 3,000 teachers and principals from public and private schools throughout the county. The bar has also invited its members to help publicize the contest in recent years.
The bar received more than 150 posters and more than a dozen videos this year. All the entries were received and posted online.
First- second- and third-place winners receive prizes at a May 20 luncheon, and the bar showcases the winning entries on its website and its San Diego Lawyer Magazine. The first-place winner’s class also gets a pizza party.
“It’s interesting what students know about what’s going on in the world—Black Lives Matter, the voting system, the environment, homelessness, gay rights,” Chavez said. “They’re exposed to so much and see it as something we can fix. It’s all positive. It’s very organic and sincere.”
In past years, a select group of bar volunteers judged the contest. This year, the bar welcomed anyone, including attorneys and law students, to view and judge the entries with a few clicks. Another recent change, made to reflect how young people like to communicate, shifted from essays to videos.
Posters remain the most popular form of entry for students, she said.
Chavez offered some advice for lawyers or bar associations interested in replicating the contest. Start small, perhaps with just a poster contest, and build a list of teachers who are passionate about involving their students. Don’t forget to include the private schools, she said.
Bar Association Executive Director Jill Epstein said the contest fulfills the SDCBA’s mission to “connect lawyers and support their success and fulfillment.”
“Some of today’s youth will be tomorrow’s lawyers, and success and fulfillment come from helping clients achieve just outcomes,” she said. “The Law Week Poster & Video Contest provides an excellent opportunity for local children to increase their knowledge of our legal system, learn the importance of access to justice, and express their thoughts and feelings on these important topics through the power of art.”