ILNews

Lucas: Make this the year to support civic education

Kelly Lucas
September 12, 2012
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EidtPerspLucas-sigI knew that if I kept the faith, sooner or later it had to happen. Several days into my youngest son’s senior year of high school, God threw me a bone.

My son came home from school and told me that he planned to try out for his high school’s Model U.N. team. Now, this may not seem a big deal to you. But for this journalist who began her career working in the state Legislature and has always struggled to get the math and science aficionados that I live with to appreciate how intriguing government can be, it was a milestone moment.

So how did this happen – this kid who calls AP Calculus “easy” but considers reading a novel “a lot of work” decides that he wants to engage in government and take it on as an extra-curricular activity, no less? Someone inspired him.

There is no shortage of programs in our schools to engage and interest students in government and the law. Dedicated teachers and volunteers, many from the legal community, have given countless hours and personal resources to support programs that move students from a level of complacency of merely “showing up” to a level of intrigue that motivates them to “stand up.” But in a state that ranks 48th in the nation in voter turnout with only 39.4 percent of us bothering to cast a ballot, we must do more.

Indiana lawyers will have a unique opportunity to participate in a civic education program that will cast a national spotlight on our state and legal community. The 2013 National High School Mock Trial Championship will be held in Indianapolis May 9 to 11. Teams of high school students from almost every state, and some from outside the United States, will travel to Indianapolis to compete in this event that can make even the most experienced trial lawyer do a double-take to confirm that these are, in fact, high school students arguing matters of law.

Nearly 400 lawyer and non-lawyer volunteers are needed to serve as judges and timekeepers; assist out-of-town visitors at social events, hotels and courtroom sites; and serve in other volunteer capacities associated with this competition. If you are looking for more than a one-time volunteer opportunity, consider coaching an Indiana high school mock trial team that will compete for the opportunity to attend the national championship.

While hosting hundreds of the brightest high schoolers in the country in Indianapolis is exciting, it is not cheap. The committee is depending on the generosity of the legal community to provide resources to make the 2013 NHSMTC one to remember.

Information about Indiana Mock Trial and the national championship, along with volunteer opportunities and forms, can be obtained at www.inmocktrial.org. Donations may be made at www.inbf.org/giving_to_the_foundation. Be sure to note that your gift is for the Indiana High School Mock Trial Program. Questions may be directed to NHSMTC host committee chair Ann Marie Waldron at awaldron@rwylaw.com.

September is a month of new beginnings. For students, it represents a new school year – a clean slate – and anything is possible. For members of the legal community, it can be the time to consider volunteering and making a difference, perhaps becoming an inspiration to a kid. On behalf of parents everywhere whose child will discover a new area of interest this school year, I thank you.•

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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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