When the Maryland State Bar Association’s Citizenship
Law-Related Education Program in Maryland Schools (CLREP) was created 30 years
ago, its goal was to train teachers in law-related education so that they,
in turn, could educate Maryland students about the law. Today, this effort
has blossomed into a comprehensive law-related education initiative from which
more than 10,000 teachers and over two million young people have benefited.
Several million Marylanders now have a better understanding of the law and
are more knowledgeable citizens thanks to MSBA volunteer lawyers and judges.
This year, as CLREP observes its 30th anniversary, it celebrates
the strides it has made in law-related education and commemorates the extraordinary
impact it has had in educating the public about the law. Its extensive offerings
in Maryland schools have educated young people and given them insight into
our legal system and their role as responsible citizens. This milestone has
been achieved through the efforts of thousands of MSBA attorney and judge volunteers
who generously give 20,000+ hours every year to foster law-related education
in our schools.
Today, CLREP offers everything from the Mock Trial Competition,
the Law Links Student/law firm summer internship, Teen Court, Peer Mediation,
Conflict Resolution and mentor programs to training institutes, publications,
software and curriculum materials. This comprehensive educational effort is
supported by thousands of volunteers with support from MSBA’s Law-Related
Education Committee, chaired by the Honorable Diane O. Leasure and the CLREP
staff, led by Ellery M. Miller, Jr., Executive Director.
Throughout 2005, CLREP will celebrate its 30th anniversary
with special events saluting the volunteers whose commitment is the foundation
of its success. In the last three decades, CLREP has enriched the lives of
millions of Marylanders, giving them an appreciation of their rights as citizens,
the law and our constitutional form of government. It has also advanced the
public’s respect, trust and confidence in our legal system.
CLREP has come a long way in the last 30 years. When legal illiteracy evolved
as a problem in the 1970s, Maryland attorneys, judges, police officers and
educators determined state schools lacked an adequate focus on the law and
its impact on the daily lives of citizens. To address legal illiteracy, MSBA
created CLREP to promote law-related education and citizenship in public and
private schools and educate students and teachers about the law.
In 1975, CLREP was launched with an initial U. S. Department
of Justice Law Enforcement Assistance Administration grant and funding from
MSBA and eventually the Maryland State Department of Education. Essentially,
its thrust was to bring the “law to life for students and help prepare
them for positive, productive citizenship”.
“We began with teacher training and curriculum development,” recalls
Ellery M. Miller, Jr., CLREP Executive Director for the last 29 years. The
primary focus was training to increase teacher knowledge, skills and competency
in law-related instruction. “We trained the teachers to reach the students
and developed and distributed relevant curriculum material.”
CLREP began sponsoring regional training conferences, summer
institutes and in-service days to give teachers substantive legal knowledge,
coupled with interactive, experiential methods that would help their students
think critically, analyze information and understand the law and legal concepts
being presented. Today, over 7,500 teachers have been trained.
Next, CLREP offered structured educational programs. In 1984,
it unveiled its successful Mock Trial Competition, “to engage teachers,
lawyers, educators and kids,” states Miller. “We started with five
schools; today, 135 high schools, 2,000+ students and 450+ lawyers and judges,
participate annually.” Over the years, 32,000+ students and 5,000+ parents
and members of the community have been involved in MSBA’s Mock Trials.
In 1992, CLREP initiated the Law Mentor Program, followed
by the Peer Mediation project and Conflict Resolution, Anger Management, and
Advanced Conflict Resolution training. MSBA’s law firm/high school student
summer internship, Law Links, began in 1993 and 498 students have completed
it to date. CLREP introduced Teen Court in 1999, its Core Learning Goals Resource
Guide in 2000, the Maryland Justice Training Institute in 2003 and the Maryland
Summer Center for Law and Government for Gifted and Talented Students in 2004.
Over the years, CLREP has also sponsored numerous workshops
and conferences (many with MSBA’s Public Awareness Committee) to provide
teachers with methods and materials to improve instruction in their classrooms
and enhance the understanding of students. It continues to build on the momentum
it has created, develop new projects and effectively make a difference in the
lives of young people.
As CLREP looks forward to its next 30 years, Miller predicts, “It
will be as needed and valuable a service to the young people of Maryland as
it has been for the past 30 years. CLREP will evolve and change but the need
for educating young people about the law will continue to be critical. The
program will continue to be strengthened and supported by attorneys and judges
who care about the rule of law and young people.”