UK Law Co-Hosts Law Camp for High School Students
June 7-13, the UK College of Law, in conjunction with the Fayette County Bar Association (FCBA), co-sponsored the second Summer Law Institute (SLI) – a seven-day residential Law Camp for high school students interested in law and the legal profession.
Law Camp brought together a diverse group of 19 rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors, representing five area high schools, to take part in four days of classes, a day of job shadowing, and a day of oral argument presentations. The classes held at the UK College of Law, were taught by law professors, attorneys, and judges, and focused on fundamentals of civil and criminal law and the structure of the court system. One day was spent downtown viewing court proceedings and shadowing attorneys. In the evenings, students worked on daily assignments in UK dorm rooms (where they resided during the camp) to prepare for the individual arguments that they gave on the final day of the camp in the College of Law courtroom. A law professor and two local judges critiqued the arguments.
“Law Camp gives teenagers a unique look at what law school is like and what being a lawyer is like,” Judge Sheila Isaac, Director of the Fayette County Bar Association (FCBA) explained. “This was a diverse group of young people who are interested in law or a legal career and reveals to them what that journey might look like.”
Aside from the busy educational agenda, created by College of Law Professor Allison Connelly, there was also room for social events. The students danced, played games, and watched some of the NBA finals while hanging out with new friends. Some of the events were a mixture of entertainment and law, like when the students watched the movie, To Kill a Mockingbird. Judge Isaac said the students were able to listen to the movie with a newly trained ear after having studied and presented their assigned criminal case issues.
The students thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to engage themselves in the life of a law school student and really dive into the study of law. One student said of the experience, “It’s been one of the most interesting, enlightening and in depth studies concerning the flexibility and elegance of our legal system.” Other students described the experience as “amazing,” “unforgettable,” “incredible,” and “a watershed moment in my life as far as my future and career.”
The idea to host a law camp is credited to Judge Isaac. When she first began as director of the FCBA, she met with the director of the Louisville Bar Association who informed her about their annual law camp funded by the Louisville Bar. She loved the idea, decided to write for a grant through the Fayette County Bar Foundation, and the rest fell perfectly into place with the help of UK College of Law faculty and staff.
“Judge Isaac is an amazing woman and an even more amazing public servant. What retired judge would take on the job of running a county bar association and then starting a week long program about the law for high school students,” Professor Connelly questioned. “The only person I know who would do that---and do it with love---is Sheila Isaac.”
Judge Isaac hopes to continue Law Camp next year. The benefits of the program for students interested in law are numerous. It’s a project that directly educates young people on the fundamentals of the law and broadens their understanding and awareness of the legal system. The students gain a more positive and realistic view of the profession of law. The program creates friendships and mentorships between high school students interested in law, members of the Fayette County Bar, and the professors at the UK College of Law.
“This partnership between our local bar association and the UK College of Law is able to give these students the full picture of a legal career, the academic side, and the practicing side,” said Judge Isaac. “We now have two camps under our belts and both have been successful and very popular with all students [who] have attended thus far.”
Professor Connelly expressed her amazement with this year’s group of students who participated in the camp. “Law Camp reinforced my faith in the future. The students are smart, idealistic, prepared and inquisitive. The students push you; question you,” she explained. “They force you to think out of your box. Teaching these young minds has been a refreshing reminder of the powerful bond of mutual learning that exists between student and teacher.”
Thank you to the following who helped make the Law Camp possible:
Law Camp Executive Director
Judge Sheila Isaac
Law Student Mentors
Law Camp Faculty
Professor Allison Connelly
Professor Diane Kraft
Professor Melynda Price
Law Camp Judges and Lawyers
Professor Allison Connelly
Judge Sheila Isaac
Judge Lewis Paisley