American Bar Association

The mission of the Division for Public Education is to promote public understanding of law and its role in society. The Division provides national leadership in educating the public about legal issues, legal institutions and the rule of law. The Division works in partnership with bar associations, courts, educational institutions, civic organizations, and others to reach diverse public audiences, providing balanced information through its programs, publications, and resources.

Featured Resources

Individuals Influence Public Policy

In this lesson, students are presented with a controversial school policy and given two viewpoints on the issue. They are then divided into groups, and asked to provide reasons for and against the policy. After deciding whether the policy should be changed or not, the students are asked to reflect on why policies might change and what factors influence policy decisions.

Responsibility and Community Service

This lesson explores how groups of people (or animals) come together to solve community problems. Students will identify a variety of personal responsibilities and civic responsibilities from a set of pictures in order to get a better understanding of what responsibility means. Students will understand that citizens in the United States have a responsibility to help others.

Taking a Stand

This lesson teaches the importance of being informed, forming opinions, and advocating for those opinions to our country’s political life. Students will understand what it means to take a stand and why it is important for citizens to do so for an important issue.

Victoria Goes to Court

This is a children’s book by Benny Agosto, Jr. and his daughter, Victoria Agosto, and its story describes the importance of the legal system to fighting injustice.

Rules, Rules, Rules

In this lesson, students are asked to play a game – passing an object, such as an eraser – in which the rules are unclear and keep changing. Students are then asked to actively reflect on when and why rules are important and necessary. The leader might then connect rules of the game to the rule of law, and discuss the importance of law in our communities and in our society.

Mediation and the Adversarial Process

Students are first asked to resolve a hypothetical case via the adversary process. Each student is assigned the role of plaintiff, defendant, or judge. The plaintiff and defendant argue their case in turn, and the judge renders a decision. Students are then asked to reflect on the resolution. They are then instructed to resolve the same case via mediation, and to compare the two methods of dispute resolution.

Rights in Conflict: The Case of the Professional Tap Dancer

In this lesson, the leader presents students with a situation in which one person’s rights conflict with another’s. The students will identify the problem, suggest solutions, and discuss the potential outcomes of their proposed solutions. The leader encourages students to think about which solutions are most fair, and can use the situation to illustrate the importance of having and adhering to clear rules ahead of time.

Choosing an Impartial Jury

In this lesson, students are asked to select from a list of potential jurors those most likely to be fair and impartial in a trial of Goldilocks v. The Three Bears. Students are prompted to justify why each juror they chose would be impartial, and so gain an understanding of the challenges associated with selecting an impartial jury.

Does the Constitution Protect Fair Play? Introducing Due Process

In this lesson, students will develop a working understanding of due process by discussing relevant Constitutional clauses. They are then presented with the Gideon v. Wainwright case and must decide whether Clarence Gideon had the right to an attorney, relying on their previous discussion of due process. The lesson ends with a discussion of the importance of the right to due process in criminal proceedings, as well as a discussion of other situations in which the right to due process applies.

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