Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : November 2006

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MSBA Leadership Academy Launches Youth Law Website

When the Fellows of the MSBA Leadership Academy’s Class of 2005-2006 sought to fulfill their requirements to produce a public service during their tenure with the program, they considered what they had in common.

“Many had interactions with juveniles, knew the [juvenile justice] system,” explains Kathleen Chapman, who, with Alison Y. Leonard Leach, co-chaired the 2005-2006 Class of Fellows. From the state’s attorneys office to private practice, “having contact with families, knowing what the families didn’t know,” Chapman adds, the Fellows noted the public need for a comprehensive, one-stop online resource to help answer questions pertaining to the role of Maryland’s youth in the legal system. Thus, the Maryland Youth Law website ( was born.

“The [Maryland Youth Law] website was intended to serve as a starting point for youth to understand and comprehend the many rights and responsibilities that they have in this state,” says Carlos Braxton, one of the 15 Fellows of the Class 2005-2006.

“Often the information was out there, but you had to go searching [for it],” adds Chapman, likening youth law to an “unmapped territory,” in which a lot of information existed, though no one had put it together.

“[The Fellows] placed all the information under one umbrella,” she explains.

Together, the Fellows devised the website’s main topics – “When Can I?”, “Family”, “Health”, “School”, “Criminal” and “Internet” – developing each into a question-and-answer-type format. Moreover, the site offers helpful links to other websites that provide additional, more in-depth information on youth-related law, and its basic design allows for easy browsing.

“The website was always intended as a resource primarily for youth, but with the caveat that anyone who viewed it would benefit from the information,” Braxton notes.

“This class of the Leadership Academy recognized the shifting landscape of the state in terms of its cultural make-up and incorporated a Spanish-language translation into their project,” he adds. Featuring these translations is just one more way the Leadership Academy was able to render this resource more accessible to the community.

Each Leadership Academy class has completed a different public service project, with each reflecting the “hot topics” of the time, such as immigration, hate crimes, careers, or the rights of soldiers, in a variety of formats. Be it a website, video or pamphlet, each project remains steadfast in its purpose of providing a service to the community.

The Leadership Academy is a 12-month program devoted to fostering leadership skills in its Fellows (selected from a pool of applicants) while teaching them more about MSBA as a whole. During the term, each Fellow spends time attending various MSBA events and developing and implementing a public-service project, as well as attending a special program covering such topics as public speaking, media relations, interviewing skills, conducting effective meetings, budgeting and many other related areas. The program also helps the Fellows to establish working relationships with past and present MSBA leaders to further enhance their own leadership skills.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: November 2006

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