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 Associate Executive Director, Initiatives and External Relations, 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.  

Toolkits for Classrooms

CLA has developed a new toolkit for use in the classroom in time for Law Day/Law Week (May 2020), Constitution Day (September 2020) or to accompany any discussion around the U.S. Constitution, the right to vote generally or women’s right to vote.   This toolkit focuses on the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment (providing women with the right to vote), is intended for the 5th Grade audience and includes:  

  • A 30 minute PowerPoint presentation with Speakers Notes[1]
    • Activity to accompany an Ice Breaker Exercise
    • Additional information that addresses how the Spanish Flu of 1918 may have contributed to the passage of the 19th Amendment.  

Click here to access the Toolkit.

CLA volunteers are available to provide this training in your classroom (virtually by Zoom or other online platform) through the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year or in person for the 2020-2021 academic year, provided the State of California’s Shelter in Place orders have been lifted.    Volunteers are also available to consult with teachers if they have questions.    

Immediate Opportunities to Volunteer

Interested CLA Members are invited to sign up to support 5th Grade Classrooms with the presentation 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment by emailing Lauren Elledge at Lauren.Elledge@calawyers.org All volunteers will receive everything needed to deliver a 30 minutes presentation and facilitate group activities.

Other Opportunities to Volunteer

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

  • In addition to the toolkit around the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, 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 2019 CLA Annual Meeting 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. Most California counties host countywide competitions that are a prerequisite 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.
  • 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
  • Centro Legal de la Raza The Youth Law Academy supports Oakland high school students with academic and career preparation.  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 each Spring culminating with a mock trial in June. The mock trial attorney coaches help students understand the trial process and how to present their case in front of the court. Coaches with practices or has experience in criminal law, or any type of trial experience are needed to work with a team of 6-7 students.

Other Resources and Information for Volunteers, Schools and Teachers

For more information about CLA’s Civics Initiative, please contact Ellen Miller, Associate Executive Director, Initiatives and External Relations at 916-516-1703 or Ellen.Miller@calawyers.org


[1] Full PowerPoint deck can be emailed upon request.  Included in this toolkit is a PDF of the deck.   

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