Law Students

Summer Law Programs for High School Students
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Summary: High school students are able to take advantage of an early introduction into the legal industry through week-long summer programs.

Students can develop their love of the law as early as high school. As 16-year-old Joenathan Smith explained to U.S. News, “Seeing the day to day of some of the lawyers and understanding what they do made me want to do the job even more.” He participates in his high school’s mock trial team but also got to experience a weeklong summer program that immersed him in the legal system.


Smith, a high school junior, participated in a free one-week immersion program offered by the Summer Legal Institute. The program in Indianapolis exposes high-school students to the law, connecting them with real legal professionals that can teach them how to develop critical thinking skills needed for college and law school.

This program, and a few others like it, allows high school students to develop their interest in law even during a short amount of time. The students are able to gain an in-depth look at the legal profession and even parts of the judicial system that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get a glimpse of. Generally, students have a skewed view of what the law looks like, but after completing the summer program, are able to fully recognize the options available to them in the industry, according to Aprill Hawkins, director of engagement at Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Organization. This Chicago-based nonprofit offers the Summer Legal Institute to high school students in Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Detroit, Washington DC, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Twin Cities, and Springfield, MA.

Each summer law program varies in length, size, fees, and curriculum. The programs vary between 20 and 40 students and are at least a week long. The overall goal is for the students to be exposed to various situations within the legal system. There are trips to local courthouses, mock trials, and case studies for them to participate in. Some of the programs give advice to the students about how to pay for college and law school. Generally, the cost of the programs goes towards meals and room and board.

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While finding these programs can be difficult, those interested are encouraged to check with their local universities to find offered law-based pre-college programs. Students can also reach out to law schools, bar associations, and law-focused nonprofits. The programs should put students in contact with different types of legal professionals like judges and litigators and legal professionals that work in specific practice areas like healthcare or corporate. Law School Admission Council president and CEO Kellye Testy encourages participants to find programs that allow them to meet with those who are using their law degree in untraditional ways.

Experts say these programs are especially valuable for students who are first-generation, minorities, disabled, or who do not know much about the legal profession.

The LSAC is developing initiatives to provide online resources for younger students interested in law.

Have you ever heard of these programs before? Are there any programs offered in your area? Share your answers with us in the comments below.

To learn more about law school programs involving high school students, read these articles:



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