The Houston Bar Association offers several educational programs to help educate students on the law.
The following programs are offered:

  • IDEA Program
  • Teach Texas Program
  • Juvenile Justice Mock Trial Program
  • Constitution & Law Day Readings
  • The Importance of Jury Service Program

  • IDEA Program

    The HBA provides two drug education programs yearly for Harris County fifth graders, in conjunction with local medical professionals, called the Interprofessional Drug Education Alliance (IDEA) Program. The presentation is held each October during the statewide Red Ribbon Week, sponsored by Texans’ War on Drugs, then again in February. Teams composed of medical professionals and a lawyer speak at schools in Houston-area school districts, reaching over 1,000 fifth grade students each session. The teams discuss both the legal and medical consequences of substance abuse in an interactive format. The medical volunteer may show how drugs affect a student’s ability to study and play sports; while the attorneys may show what happens if a juvenile is caught with drugs in a school locker. Students are encouraged to ask questions, and some team members bring props, such as handcuffs. Some teams even discuss substances that may not normally be considered drugs, such as how caffeine can affect growing bodies and minds. All volunteers are provided with written training materials and stickers and pencils as parting gifts for each student. Evaluations from schools indicate the program is well received by both students and faculty. Contact Ashley Gagnon Steininger with inquiries.

    Click here for IDEA Program materials.


    Teach Texas Program

    The Teach Texas Program is based on a new book from the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society and shows how the state’s court system fits into the larger picture of Texas history: its roots, heroes, growing pains, and milestones, from the days of early Spanish colonization to the present. It introduces students to the Texas court system through an innovative program combining colorful stories from the history of the Texas courts with hands on classroom activities led by teams of judges and attorneys. Contact Ashley Gagnon Steininger with inquiries.

    Click here for Teach Texas Materials.


    Juvenile Justice Mock Trial Program

    The Juvenile Justice Mock Trial Program has been serving students for since 1975. For over 40 years, it continues to be one of the most successful HBA programs, reaching more than 41,466 students over four decades, giving them the opportunity to learn about and participate in the judicial process. Eighth grade students develop and prepare a mock trial, create a crime scenario, assume all roles involved, and perform the trial at the end of a five week session; the trial is in an actual Harris County courtroom. Students from the University of Houston Law Center, South Texas College of Law, and Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and HBA staff work as a team and visit participating classes once each week for a five-week period, providing “hands-on” trial preparation. The support of the Harris County judiciary has been an integral part to the success of this program. They give up their courtrooms for several hours four Friday mornings each year. The judges in each court allow the student “judges” to wear their robes, and many take a few moments to speak with the students before or after their trials. Parents often attend the mock trials and many schools video the mock trials for later discussion. Because of its longevity, students who participated in the Mock Trial Program as eighth graders have even returned to work in the program as law students. There are judges on Harris County benches that assisted in the program while they were law students.

    If your class is interested in participating, contact Ashley Gagnon Steininger at ashleyg@hba.org or (713) 759-1133.


    Constitution Day & Law Day Readings

    Constitution Day Readings

     
    In commemoration of Constitution Day on September 17, the HBA conducts a reading program in local schools. Attorney members of the HBA present interactive readings on the constitution or good citizenship in 100 elementary schools throughout Harris County. The books are then donated to the school libraries. The reading program has set a goal of reading at 100 elementary schools on Constitution Day, reaching approximately 9,000 students each year. The HBA Lawyers for Literacy Committee has selected the book Grace for President by Kelly Dipucchio to read on Monday, September 17, 2018. We read to two groups of students back to back in 30 minute sessions with a limit of 50 students per reading session. To request a volunteer at your school, click here. To volunteer to read at a school, click here. Contact Bonnie Simmons at bonnies@hba.org or (713) 759-1133 for more information.
     
     

    Law Day Readings

     
    In the Law Day Reading program, attorneys read a book to elementary classes throughout Harris County. The book is selected by the HBA Law Week Committee based on the Law Day theme for the year and donated to each school’s library. Contact Bonnie Simmons at bonnies@hba.org or (713) 759-1133 for more information.


    The Importance of Jury Service Program

    The HBA created this program in response to low juror turnout in Harris County, especially in certain zip codes. It was designed to help increase participation and to ensure that jury pools are made up of a true cross-section of the community. The program educates high school seniors, who will soon be eligible for jury duty, about the importance of the jury system and juror participation in our American justice system. Volunteer attorneys and judges conduct interactive classroom presentations that illustrate the history and importance of our jury system, as well as statistics on Harris County juror participation. The presentations debunk myths about jury service, explain the trial process, and show students how jury deliberations actually work. The program encourages young adults to take seriously their responsibility and their right to serve on a jury and shows them how they can make a difference in their communities.

    Educators – Click here to request a speaker for the Importance of Jury Service Program

    Attorneys – Click here to sign up as a speaker for the Importance of Jury Service Program

    For more information, contact Ashley Gagnon Steininger at ashleyg@hba.org or (713) 759-1133.