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The Classroom Experience

Working in pairs, Street Law student volunteers teach classes designed to provide knowledge of everyday legal problems and develop problem-solving skills necessary for dealing with these issues. Since its founding at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, more than 150 law students have taught 44 classes in local schools and youth facilities, reaching more than 1,500 youth.

School administrators are very positive about Street Law. The following comments from Jil De Masi, Principal of Essex Junior Academy, are typical of administrators’ evaluations:

“Our students are special needs students from numerous urban districts. I feel that the law student instructors conducted excellent classes to a challenging population. Ninety-eight percent of the students went to the classes willingly and participated! We want our students to choose EDUCATION and this was a great experience that broadened their horizons and sparked interest and understanding about laws, rules, the court system, trials, cases, etc. The exposure to new vocabulary, critical thinking skills, mock trial experience, etc. was nothing short of outstanding. Teachers and students have expressed appreciation for the law-related education classes as well as a sincere fondness for the instructors.”

The youth themselves also value their participation in the Street Law Program. Joe Romano, teacher at Irvington High School, said that the overwhelming response from his students was positive and they looked forward to seeing and learning from our students every week. He offered the following comments from his students’ evaluations:

“I think the program is awesome. This program gets young adults involved in learning about the law.”

“I feel as though the program is very interesting. They (the student teachers) make you think about the law from a different perspective.”

“I like the program a lot so far. Not only do you learn a lot, but you have fun while learning.”

Law students benefit in many ways from participating in Street Law. The experience deepens their knowledge of the law, enhances their research and presentation skills, and, in the words of one student, “takes us out of the law school bubble and brings us back to the heart of why we decided to attend law school.”