Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Cool Website for Fun and Learning

At this point in the summer it’s fairly common for kids to admit to their parents that they’re bored. Well, with school still a month away how about a little learning and a little fun mixed together?

An online, interactive Web site ( that teaches middle school students about civics includes a wealth of information for teachers and students about the three branches of government. While teachers will enjoy the lesson plans, I’m betting the students will be more interested in the online games by casting the deciding vote in a case as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, acting as president, or crafting laws as a member of Congress.

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor started the national initiative, and I’m pleased to serve as Ohio’s spokesperson and adviser.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taking Our Show on the Road

As part of a program to show how the Supreme Court of Ohio operates, today the Supreme Court announced that it will conduct an official session at Ohio Northern University on Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Normally, we hear oral arguments in Columbus, but twice a year we visit cities outside the capital to give hundreds of students the chance to attend and see for themselves the proceedings of the Supreme Court and to be able to talk to justices, attorneys and court staff.

The upcoming Ada visit is part of our semiannual Off-Site Court Program started in 1987 and this will be the 60th time we have travelled from Columbus.

I always enjoy visiting different parts of the state and experiencing the camaraderie of the legal communities in other cities. The teachers and attorneys who prepare students for this event do such a good job – we always have such thoughtful questions to answer. So, I’m looking forward to being with those of you who will be with us on Sept. 29. See you there!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Law and Leadership World Tour Complete

After being in 5 classes and 3 cities I can attest to the fact that the Law and Leadership program is really working. (I stopped by the Toledo site today.)  I was so impressed with the dedication of the teachers and law students involved.
The students were giving up some fine weather to get dressed up very well, and to study and learn instead of the usual vacation relaxing. I fielded some good questions about how the courts work, the place of judges in the system and the importance of attorneys.

As the first one in my family to go to college, I could see myself in their shoes--many of them are also the first in their families to think of college and many of them also would be the first to enter the legal profession if they can make it through the years of school necessary. I'm hoping to see some of them in practice some day--our profession would be much richer as a result.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cleveland Law and Leadership Students Trade Summer Sun for Legal Lessons

Cleveland students are soaking up summer days filled with learning about the law and legal concepts.

Justice Maureen O’Connor and I had the pleasure of joining students enrolled in the Law and Leadership program and serving as guest speakers on Monday. The program seeks to improve diversity in the legal profession by offering promising youth from urban neighborhoods a chance to study law during the summer at an Ohio law school. We visited with students at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

We talked about the challenges of being a Supreme Court Justice and how our state court system operates. We also answered many thoughtful questions from the students. The students should be proud that they were selected to participate. We sure are proud of them. Keep up the good work!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Columbus Law and Leadership Students Know Their Stuff

The calendar says July, but two classes of students were in mid-school year form Thursday learning about the law and legal concepts.

I had the pleasure of joining Columbus students enrolled in the Law and Leadership program and serving as a guest speaker. The program seeks to improve diversity in the legal profession by offering promising youth from urban neighborhoods a chance to study law during the summer at an Ohio law school. I visited with students at Capital University Law School in the morning and students at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in the afternoon.

We spent the time talking about our state court system and what it is like to be a Supreme Court Justice. The students asked plenty of great questions about our state's legal system and the judicial branch. They deserve congratulations on being selected to participate in this wonderful program. Who knows -- if they continue to study hard and finish high school, college and law school, they could be attorneys someday or even judges themselves!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

300 Dedicated Ohio High School Students Spend Summer Studying the Law

As we get into the dog days of summer, there is a group of dedicated young people with an  interest in the law who are forgoing days at the swimming pool for some serious summer studies.

More than 300 students from six Ohio cities started this year's  Law and Leadership Institute on July 6. The Institute is a statewide program that seeks to improve diversity in the legal profession by identifying promising youth from urban neighborhoods and grooming them to be future leaders in the legal profession.

The students study law over the summer at an Ohio law school. Students entering the ninth, 10th and 11th grades are participating this year in Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.

I commend these students on their choice to keep working through the summer, and I hope to bring you updates on their activities here on the Justice Judy Blog. 

The institute began in 2008 in Cleveland and Columbus and expanded to the four additional cities last year. The original sites will house all three grades this summer and involve two law schools in each city while the four expansion cities will have two grades at each city’s law school.

“The whole idea behind this program is to enhance students’ critical thinking, writing and research skills, their analytic ability and to expose students to a professional work environment,” said Carl D. Smallwood, president of the Law and Leadership Institute, LLC. “Many of these students come from underserved communities and from families less aware of the steps necessary to prepare for college admission.”

He said the program is much more than simply “job shadowing,” in that ninth-grade summer students are in class for five weeks concluding with a mock trial; 10th-grade students sit for three weeks of classroom instruction and conclude with a one-week internship at a law firm or corporation; and 11th-grade students take ACT/SAT preparation courses to boost their college readiness, go on campus visits, and are paired with lawyer mentors on a research and writing assignment.

He noted that the program stays with the participating students as they move through high school and next year will grow again to include all four high school grades.

Partners for the 2010 institute include the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio Center for Law Related Education, the Ohio State Bar Association, Ohio’s metropolitan bar associations, city school districts and Ohio’s nine law schools: the University of Akron School of Law, Capital University Law School, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, the University of Dayton School of Law, Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law, The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and the University of Toledo College of Law.

The Law and Leadership Institute is supported, in part, by grants from the Ohio State Bar Foundation and the Law School Admissions Council.