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
  • Breakthrough Houston
  • 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.

    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.

    Click here for Teach Texas Materials.


    Breakthrough Houston Program

    Breakthrough Houston is an academic enrichment and college preparatory program for some of Houston’s most deserving young people. The tuition-free program prepares promising students with limited educational resources for competitive high school programs and college admissions. The program consists of a six-week summer session, a school-year program and a college bound program once the student enters high school. The HBA is working with the Breakthrough Houston Program housed at St. John’s School to provide mentors for the College Bound Program, October through April. Mentors commit to meeting with assigned mentees at four designated sessions, as well as keeping in touch via phone calls, emails and online chats on a regular basis to keep them on track to succeed.

    If you are interested in serving as a mentor, please click here.


    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 several programs in local schools. HBA members present interactive readings in 100 elementary schools throughout Harris County. The book selected for 2016 was So You Want to be President. Volunteers read to 8,981 students in 209 groups at 106 schools in 21 school districts. After the readings, the books are donated to the school libraries. The HBA also provides a special section of KidZone, the association’s Web pages for children, teens, educators and parents, which focuses on the Constitution and includes links and other educational information.

    Materials Available: List of books used each year and recommended books provided by the State Bar Law Related Education Department.

    Children Served: The reading program has set a goal of reading at 100 elementary schools on Constitution Day, reaching approximately 9,000 students each year. The KidZone Web section will reach students of all ages, as well as parents and educators.

    HBA Staff Contact: Bonnie Simmons, (713) 759-1133.

    Law Day Readings

     
    In the Law Day Reading program, attorneys (from the Law Week, Lawyers for Literacy, and Speakers Bureau committees) read a book about citizenship and/or the law to elementary classes throughout Harris County. The book is chosen by the Law Week Committee and donated to each school’s library on the day of the readings. The HBA purchases the book from publishers at a reduced rate.
     
    In 2016, attorneys read “Today On Election Day” to over 8,650 elementary school students at 102 schools in 19 school districts.


    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.

    For more information, contact Jessica Creamer at jessical@hba.org or (713) 759-1133.