The Houston Bar Association was recognized April 23 with a Golden Apple Service Award for its legal education programs in the Houston Independent School District over the years. The award was presented during a virtual ceremony honoring 50 years of HISD’s Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) Programs.
HBA legal education programs have ranged from mock trials for eighth graders, to Constitution Day and Law Week readings in elementary schools, to educating high school students about the importance of jury service. Programs have included:
- The Juvenile Justice Mock Trial Program, where 8th graders learn about the trial process and assume the roles of judge, prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses and jurors in a mock trial;
- Lawyers in Public Schools, where attorneys volunteered as substitute teachers in local classrooms, allowing teachers to take time off for in-service training;
- Constitution Day and Law Week Readings, with attorneys reading and discussing an age-appropriate book about the law with elementary school students;
- The Voir Dire Program, with judges and attorneys teaching high school students about how juries are selected by taking them through a mock voir dire;
- Dialogues on Freedom, a conversation between attorneys or judges and high school students on different aspects of the law;
- Teach Texas, where judges and attorneys provide an interactive history of Texas jurisprudence and civics to seventh graders;
- The Importance of Jury Service, with attorneys and judges discussing the rights and responsibilities of serving on a jury with high school seniors;
- The HBA/CIS (Communities In Schools) Legal Internship Program, where law firms, courts, government offices, and legal departments provide summer employment, mentoring and other programs for high schools students;
- Law Day Contests for K-12 students;
- Speakers Bureau, with attorneys and judges talking about law as a career and other topics upon request;
- IDEA (Interprofessional Drug Education Alliance) Program, where teams of lawyers and doctors speak to 5th graders on the dangers of substance abuse; and
- We Care cards, pocket-sized cards with phone numbers and websites for teens in crisis.