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
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 (www.peoples-law.org/youth/index.html)
“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
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
Together, the Fellows devised the website’s main topics – “When
“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,”
“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.