Civics Engagement and Outreach Initiative

One of CLA’s top priorities is to help increase the civic awareness, knowledge and engagement of Californians.   Facilitated by our Civics Engagement and Outreach Committee, (chaired by Jerrilyn Malana), and in conjunction with CLA Sections and our Director of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives, there are numerous opportunities to get involved at CLA and/or in your local community. 

Understanding the Civics Crisis in California

The Chief Justice has made civics learning a priority and for good reason.  To read more about the critical need for Civics Engagement, click here.  We also encourage you to read Revitalizing K-12 Civic Learning in California, a report of the California Taskforce on K-12 Civics Learning that includes a series of findings and recommendations.  

Opportunities to Volunteer

There are a variety of opportunities to help with civics engagement at the K-12 level and in the community:   

  • CLA will be creating a toolkit around the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment.  This toolkit can be used in classrooms at area schools and will be available in time for Law Day May 1, 2020.   Numerous other resources are currently being developed.  For more information or to volunteer for civics project, contact Ellen.Miller@calawyers.org 
  • CLA Sections are planning outreach efforts that will be posted in Immediate Opportunities.   The CEO Committee and the Litigation Section put on a program at the CLA Annual Meeting in October for 5th grade students around the role of judges using the Judges in the Classroom resource called No Animals Allowed.  
  • Your county may have a Civics Learning Partnership (“CLP”) that is coordinating or identifying civics volunteer opportunities locally.   These CLPs, initially established through the Chief Justice’s Power of Democracy Steering Committee are local, independent efforts working to address and support civics at the countywide and district levels and in schools.   Some efforts have their own website or social media account while others can be best reached by email.  Click here for a link of counties with CLPs.  We suggest contacting them directly to identify speaking, mentoring or other volunteer opportunities.     
  • The Constitutional Rights Foundation coordinates the California Mock Trial Competition.   To learn more about your county efforts and competition, or to volunteer as a coach, or judge click here.  
  • Volunteer at one of 22 California Law Academies throughout California. Law Academies are in need of a variety of support – volunteers to serve on advisory boards, foundation boards, to speak in the classroom, to be mentors, to arrange internships.   This work supports both civics and the diversity pipeline.  For a list of High School Law Academies in the state or to get more involved in the pathway to law effort, check out CaliforniaLAW list of particular schools.
  • Many local, metro and specialty bar associations also have civics outreach efforts.    Some of those efforts are focused around Law Day or Constitution Day.   To locate a list of bar associations in California, click here .  In addition, check out these local bars for their civics engagement efforts:
  • Bar Association of San Francisco San Francisco Law Academy, Mock Trial, Lawyers in the Schools
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Dialogues on Freedom
  • Orange County Bar Association Community Outreach
  • San Diego County Bar Association, Law Day Poster and Video Contest Judging
  • California Judges Association’s Judicial Fairness Coalition is dedicated to civic education and community outreach and provides the public with information to help them better understand legal issues related to a specific situation, including the role of judges, the rule of law, the ethical restrictions and responsibilities placed on judges, judicial selection and elections, qualifications that candidates should possess for judicial office, and judicial independence. Here is a link to the JFC efforts:   https://www.caljudges.org/CommFairness.asp

Immediate Opportunities

  • The Youth Law Academy is a diversity initiative of Centro Legal de la Raza to support Oakland high school students with academic and career preparation. Here is a link to more information about our program.  Mock trial classes are held on Tuesday nights from 5-7pm at the Alameda County Law Library in downtown Oakland, across from the courthouse. Coaching will take place from February 4th-June 2nd, and the actual mock-trial will be on June 6th in Berkeley.  The mock trial attorney coaches help students understand the trial process and how to present their case in front of the court. Coaches work with a team of 6-7 students. It would be helpful if the coach practices or has experience in criminal law, or any type of trial experience.
  • Statewide Mock Trial Competition
    High Schools across California are preparing to compete in countywide Mock Trial Competitions.  These countywide competitions are required to qualify for the state championship.  Most county level tournaments take place in February and hundreds of lawyer scorers are needed to make this competition a success.   If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the county coordinators in your area:  https://www.crf-usa.org/mock-trial-california/county-coordinators.html

Other Resources and Information for Volunteers, Schools and Teachers

For more information about CLA’s Civics Initiative, please contact Ellen Miller, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives at 916-516-1703 or Ellen.Miller@calawyers.org

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