Each year, Law Day is celebrated nationally on May 1 to honor the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process contribute to the freedoms that all Americans share. Law Day also provides an opportunity to recognize the role of courts in this democracy and the importance of jury service to maintaining the integrity of the courts.
Local bar associations, courts, schools, youth groups, and community organizations are encouraged to hold Law Day programs to help people understand how law keeps us free and how our legal system strives to achieve justice.
2013 law day contests
The State Bar of Texas and the Texas Young Lawyers Association invite local bar associations and young lawyer affiliates to participate in the statewide Law Day contests. Every local bar association in Texas is invited to submit its first-place winners in each category from its local contest to the State Bar. The deadline for all submissions is Monday, April 1, 2013. Download the 2013 Law Day brochure.
Realizing the Dream: Equality for All
The promise of equality under the law is what has made America a beacon to other nations. The year 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1963, during the Proclamation’s centennial, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial and called upon our nation to live up to the great promise, enshrined in its founding documents, of equality for all. Five decades later, the inspirational words of Rev. Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech continue to resonate and challenge us to live up to our national ideal of equality under the law. The legacy of the Civil Rights Movement can be seen in the strides that have been made against discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation.
Law Day, May 1, 2013, will provide an opportunity for students to explore civil and human rights in America and to reflect on work that remains to be done in rectifying injustice and eliminating all forms of discrimination.
All entries should reflect the student’s interpretation of the 2013 Law Day theme by responding to the following prompt:
“I have one voice. I will use it to…”
What Have Other Local Bar Associations Done To Celebrate Law Day?
Dallas Bar Association:
Each year, attorneys of the Dallas Bar Association impact thousands of elementary students (K-6) in approximately 50 schools across Dallas by teaching classes to help students understand the importance of our court systems. More than 60 attorneys participate each year in “Lawyers in the Classroom” throughout the month of May in celebration of Law Day. The Law Day Mock Voir Doir Project, presented to more than 100 Dallas high school students, allows youth to engage in court proceedings. Their annual poster, photography, and essay contests allows students to further connect to the Law Day theme, and enables youth to express the impact of the rule of law in their own lives.
El Paso Bar Association:
The El Paso Bar Association sponsors a Law Day Chess Tournament for elementary and middle school children. This program started approximately 20 years ago after low income school districts in El Paso received federal grant money to pay for chess coaches since the game is said to transcend language barriers and improve the ability to concentrate and solve problems. The El Paso Bar Association Law Day Tournament matches students in each grade level to compete against each other. The first and second place winners are given trophies and then go on to play a lawyer. If the student defeats the lawyer in the chess match, he or she receives a medal stating, “I Beat a Lawyer.” In previous years, congressmen, local judges, and attorneys all participated in the tournament.
Houston Bar Association:
Members of the Law Week Committee plan a range of activities surrounding Law Day in addition to hosting their poster, essay, and photography contests for area schools. Other events include poster workshops for inner-city youth and minority groups, reading to elementary students in 100 area schools, holding interactive “Dialogues” on the Law Day theme in high school classes, and passing out pocket-sized copies of the Constitution to citizens reporting to jury duty. The Houston Bar also invites special needs students to the historic Harris County 1910 Courthouse, where they get the unique opportunity to tour the courthouse and to see an abbreviated reenactment of the oral arguments made to the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education.
Jefferson County Bar Association:
The Jefferson County Bar Association’s Law Day celebration encourages member participation and honors the rule of law. At the Law Day Ceremony thousands of dollars are awarded to the Law Day speech and poster contest winners, and to the Mock Trial team, which provides students with the opportunity to learn about our legal system. The bar also recognizes exemplary lawyers in the community during their Annual Meeting and Law Day Ceremony. The event concludes by promoting camaraderie among the legal community through its annual Fajita Cook-Off, Washer Tournament, and Bar Party, complete with live entertainment from a group of local attorneys and judges named Lawlapalooza.
Consider submitting your bar association’s outstanding Law Day program to ABA’s Law Day Activity Awards.
Helpful Links to Additional Resources
- American Bar Association – 2013 Law Day
- American Bar Association Law Day Planning Guide
- Ideas and Samples
- 2013 Law Day Children’s Literature
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