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Civic Engagement Toolkit

Ideas for Speaking to Civic/Community Groups

Use your life in the law as inspiration. Why did you want to be a lawyer? Was it to help people? How have you been able to help people as a lawyer?

Which lawyers have served as your inspiration and why? How have they helped make you a better lawyer in serving your clients or in serving the community?

Talk about some of Texas’ great lawyers. In what ways have these lawyers contributed to our current legal or political landscape? Why are their contributions important to us today?

Why is it important for people to hire a lawyer to help with a legal matter? What if people cannot afford a lawyer? What resources are available to them?

Discuss how popular media informs the public’s perception — both good and bad — of lawyers. How does that differ from the reality of the everyday practice of law?

Discuss why the rule of law is important to everyday life. What is the lawyer’s role in the rule of law? The public’s role?

Possible Speaking Venues

Many community groups are looking for speakers on leadership, professionalism, and civic duty. We’ve provided some suggestions for possible speaking venues:

• Chamber of Commerce (Tip: Most chambers will have a good list of resources and community organizations and perhaps a speakers bureau you can join.)
• Business and civic groups (Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, etc.)
• Parent-Teacher groups
• School events (Tip: Encourage your schools to hold Constitution Day and Law Day events – and volunteer to participate!)
• Faith-based gatherings
• Community events (festivals, town meetings, etc.)
• Groups that support civic education

How Do I Get Started?

First, create a list of possible speaking venues in your community. Contact your Chamber of Commerce to get a list of local organizations and their contact information. Some groups may have a person designated to arrange speakers for events, so try and get that information as well.

Once you’ve decided on a group or groups to approach, contact them and explain about Making the Case — see ideas above for topic suggestions. You may want to send a letter explaining your topic in greater detail.

Once a speaking engagement is set (usually from 15 minutes to 30 minutes for guest speakers), determine if A/V will be available at the venue. If so, let the event coordinator know you have a PowerPoint and/or video to show and send it to the appropriate person if so requested. Also, provide a short bio so you may be properly introduced.

On the day of the event, arrive early to meet the program’s coordinator and any leaders of the organization. Double check that your PowerPoint or video is set up properly and ready to go.

Nervous or unsure about speaking to a group outside of a courtroom? Here are some general tips and techniques from Toastmasters International that can help:

Speaking Tips and Techniques [Website]

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