Engaging Summer Opportunities to Learn about the Field of Law
Introduction to Summer Programs that Involve Exploring the Field of Law
The field of law offers many interesting opportunities. In general, there is a broad range of skills utilized by attorneys, which include critical thinking, public speaking, developing evidence-based arguments, expressing information clearly, and analyzing issues. Lawyers can specialize in different areas of law, including constitutional, environment, patent, family, tax, and more. Recently, there have been more colleges, universities, and organizations offering structured summer programs that enable high school students to learn about the field of law. There are now law and mock trial summer opportunities available for students. This article is designed to share information about and provide examples of high school summer law programs.
Participating in a Summer Program to Learn about the Field of Law
High schools typically do not have classes that specifically focus on the legal profession and being a lawyer. However, there are many opportunities for students to build the foundation for studying law in the future. High school classes such as government, United States history, and humanities provide opportunities for students to learn about the constitution, significant historical court cases, the justice system, the legal principles that guide the country, and more. Through school classes, students can also develop their skills in important areas such as reading, writing, speaking, analytical thinking, and problem-solving, and using evidence to support assertions. Additionally, many high schools have an extracurricular mock trial program that can give students a sense of what it is like to be in the legal field.
Participating in a structured summer law program can be a helpful way to supplement the foundation of knowledge that is built through high school. Summer programs allow students to immerse themselves in exciting activities, including discussions, field trips, experiential exercises, and simulations. Students often have the chance to learn from legal experts such as lawyers, judges, and university professors. The summer law opportunities can give students the chance to enjoy exploring a field of interest, develop or strengthen skills, and gain insight into possible career options for the future.
Summer Programs to Enhance Skills
If students would like to participate in a summer program, but a law option is not feasible, there are other opportunities to develop skills that can be helpful for a future career in the legal profession. There are summer programs in the following areas that may be of interest.
- Programs for students who would like to build their writing skills.
- Opportunities for students to learn about effective leadership practices.
- Options for students to gain experience in business and entrepreneurship.
- A variety of summer opportunities in different states such as Massachusetts (more states can be found by using the ‘States‘ tab in the menu).
Pre-College Summer Legal Programs
Many summer law programs take place on college campuses. As a result, high school students have a chance to become more familiar with a higher education setting. Students are able to explore the campus, learn in a college environment, gain information about potential courses of study, interact with faculty and staff members, and prepare for the transition that occurs when high school concludes.
Through a summer pre-college law program, high school students can find out about recommended educational pathways that can lead to a career in the legal field. Pre-college law programs often enable students to find out and ask questions about the different types of majors that can effectively prepare them for the LSAT (an examination for admission to law school) and for being successful law school.
The pre-college summer programs can be designed to be residential or commuter-based. The programs can also provide students with the option of either staying on the campus or commuting to the school each day that the program runs. There can be benefits for residing on a campus and commuting to a campus. The residential summer law programs allow high school students to stay on the campus while they are taking part in the program. Staying on the campus can help students get a preview of what college life is like. However, students often can pay less if they commute and they still gain the experience of learning on a college campus as well as taking part in the educational activities.
Different Ways to Learn about the Legal Profession and What Lawyers Do
Structured summer law programs are only one way for high school students to learn about being a lawyer. There are other ways in which students can explore career opportunities in the field of law. Shadowing lawyers can be a helpful experience with regard to learning about the legal profession. Sometimes there are local lawyers or law firms that are open to helping students arrange for shadowing experiences. There may also be connections through a school and students can check in the guidance office to determine if shadowing opportunities may be available for those with an interest in law.
If a shadowing option is not available, students may be able to interview a lawyer to ask questions about law school and the legal profession. As an alternative, if there is a local college or university that has a law school, it may be possible for a student to interview a professor and ask questions about educational pathways and careers in the field.
A local legal educational center may also have programs related to learning about the field of law and can assist students in finding out more about the field. If there is a local law education center, it can be useful to inquire with them about opportunities for high school students to learn about the legal profession. An example of a legal education center is the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education.
Some high schools have a mock trial program as an extra or co-curricular activity. The program typically provides students with the chance to collaborate with peers and work with educators and/or lawyers and prepare for local, regional, and state competitions. A mock trial program can be a useful way for students to learn about the legal field and develop skills associated with trial-based law.
Summer Programs in this Article
This article is designed to provide information about summer law programs for high school students. There are a variety of opportunities for students to learn about the legal profession through the programs and camps that are described below. The list of programs in this article is not intended to be exhaustive. The opportunities that are included in the article are meant to provide examples of options that may be useful to students who have an interest in exploring the field of law.
Summer Programs for High School Students with an Interest in Law
Wake Forest University Summer Law Program
Wake Forest provides a summer institute that is designed to help high school students become more familiar with being a lawyer and practicing law. Students engage in a variety of experiential activities, learn about educational pathways that lead to becoming an attorney, and strengthen their understanding about the field of law.
Through the week-long program, students get to interact with and meet a law professor as well as current professionals in the legal field. The program also enables students to take part in experiential learning exercises. Participants learn about a real legal case, examine evidence, develop persuasive arguments, and implement skills that lawyers utilize on a regular basis.
During the program, students examine many different topics. Topics can include real court cases, the use of evidence in cases, forensics, statutes and policies, witnesses, different types of law, and more. Students also engage in rich discussions about confessions, DNA, and precedent course cases. Additionally, participants visit sites near the university to see professionals involved with practicing law.
The summer pre-college program offers a residential and commuter option. The residential option enables participants to stay on campus during the program and preview living in a college setting. The commuter option involves students participating in the daily educational activities, leaving the campus for the evening, and returning to the university the next day. There is an application for the program. Students can also apply to be considered for a scholarship based on financial need.
Participants: The program is intended for high school students who will be going into the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade. Recent high school graduates can also participate.
Learn more: Wake Forest Legal Summer Program
University of Georgia Summer Legal Camp
The summer legal camp is hosted by the School of Law at the University of Georgia. The camp is designed to provide high school students with the opportunity to gain important foundational knowledge about practicing law and participate in experiential activities to begin to develop skills that are associated with being a lawyer.
The week-long program enables students to learn from and interact with faculty members as well as practicing attorneys. Students also have a chance to hear from law students at the university to find out what law school is like for them and hear about the reasons that they decided to go into the field.
The summer camp also provides practical learning opportunities for students. This includes a site visit to a court of law to see lawyers and judges. Additionally, the program includes a mock trial. Participants become attorneys and witnesses for a case, and the trial is simulated so that students can get a feel for trial law.
The summer camp allows students to gain experience on a college campus. Participants have the option to reside on campus or commute. There are two sessions available for students during the summer. Students can apply to be considered for financial aid.
Participants: Students ages fourteen through seventeen.
Learn more: UGA Legal Summer Camp
Syracuse University Criminal and Corporate Law Program
Syracuse offers an extensive summer college that is designed to enable high school students to explore and examine a topic of interest. One of the programs, within the summer college, focuses on criminal and corporate law. The program helps students to make clear distinctions between two pathways in the legal profession — criminal law and corporate law. This helps students to develop a better understanding of the types of career opportunities that are available within the field of law.
During the two-week program, students learn about a variety of aspects of both criminal and corporate law. While exploring criminal, participants have the chance to learn about significant policies and procedures that have shaped the way that the justice system works. Students examine areas such as due process, criminal investigations, the use of evidence, and precedent-setting court cases.
One of the features of this program is the opportunity that students have to compare criminal with corporate-based law. On the corporate side, students learn about topics such as the formation of wills, estate planning, legal contracts, and business-based lawsuits. This helps students to compare and contrast civil law with criminal law.
The summer law program also provides a chance for students to meet and learn from a professor with experience in both criminal and civil law. Additionally, students take part in experiential exercises, such as a mock trial, to get a better sense of what it is like to be an attorney.
The pre-college program allows participating students to stay on the university’s campus. Students reside in a university dormitory, have access to dining halls, and get a glimpse of living in a college setting.
There is an application for the program. There is some financial aid available and there are some merit-based scholarships available.
Participants: The program is intended to be students who are at least fifteen years of age.
Learn more: SU Summer Legal Program
Rhodes College Mock Trial Summer Program
Rhodes College, in the state of Tennessee, has an active Mock Trial Program for undergraduate students. The program has captured multiple championships and frequently qualifies for the National College Mock Trial Tournament. Based on the success of the program, the college holds a summer mock trial academy that is designed for high school students.
The week-long summer program enables high school students to come to the campus to enhance mock trial skills, learn new techniques, analyze cases, and practice implementing courtroom strategies. Participants work with coaches, who assist them with mock trial skills such as presenting cases, developing arguments based on evidence, questioning witnesses, preparing effective opening and closing statements, and more.
Through the emphasis on mock trial, the summer program helps students to develop and strengthen skills that are utilized by practicing lawyers and become more familiar with the procedures employed in courtrooms. Additionally, students learn how to carefully analyze and examine the constitution and apply constitutional law to mock trial settings.
During the program, students take part in interesting discussions, analyze court cases, examine effective legal practices, collaborate with peers, spend time preparing for mock trial cases, and receive coaching and feedback. Before the program comes to a close, students engage in a mock trial simulation to apply what they have learned throughout the week.
Students have the opportunity to stay overnight at the college during the program. As a result, participants become more familiar with the college and get a preview of a college living environment. Students get to know current undergraduate members of the college’s mock trial, who provide supervision during the program.
There is an application for the program. Students can request financial aid based on need.
Participants: High school students.
Learn more: Rhodes Mock Trial Summer Program
University of Connecticut Pre-College Summer Law Program
The University of Connecticut has a comprehensive pre-college summer opportunity for high school students. One of the options within the pre-college experience is a pre-law program track for high school students. The pre-law program is designed to allow participants to examine the legal field from multiple perspectives.
During the two-week program, students gain experience in examining important concepts, theories, and principles within the justice system. Participants explore ideas within the U.S. Constitution and discuss the ways that this shapes the justice system in the country. Students have a chance to compare and contrast criminal and civil law and to learn about the role that attorneys play in society.
There is also a significant experiential component to this program, which enables students to deepen their understanding of what it is like to be a lawyer. As the program comes to a close, participants have the opportunity to engage in a mock trial simulation that typically involves applying constitutional law. In addition to the simulation, students also visit a courthouse to see attorneys and judges in action. Additionally, students can learn about law school and find out about recommended ideas if they would like to pursue a career as a lawyer.
In addition to the educational activities in the law program, students have the opportunity to stay on the campus and experience life at the university. There is an application to participate in the program.
Participants: The program is intended for current high school ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders, who are at least fifteen when the program begins.
Learn more: U Conn Summer Pre-Law Program
University of California Irvine (UCI) Summer Law Program
UCI offers a summer institute for high school students who have an interest in learning about the legal system and would like to examine the field of law. The program is run through the UCI School of Law. This allows students to interact with law professors, find out about recommended ideas to prepare for law school, and gain insight into potential career opportunities within the field.
The five-day program gives students a chance to learn about the knowledge and skills that are utilized by attorneys. Participants have a chance to hear from experts in the field, collaborate, and take part in a variety of experiential learning activities to become more familiar with what it is like to be an attorney.
During the program, students gain an understanding of different types of law, the principles of the justice system, and the types of work that is done by lawyers. Participants in the program learn about a wide variety of areas within the field of law, which include engaging topics such as the protected freedoms of students. Additionally, participants have a chance to sharpen their communication skills by utilizing evidence-based arguments and presenting information in debates and simulations. In these active learning exercises, students utilize new skills and strategies and receive feedback to continue their learning.
Participants in the program have the opportunity to spend time on a university campus and learn in a college environment. The program is commuter-based and the educational activities take place throughout the day at the university. There is an application for the program and students can also apply for a need-based scholarship.
Participants: High school students who have completed their tenth-grade year.
Learn more: UC Irvine’s Summer Law Program
Columbia University Careers in Law Summer Program
The summer law program at Columbia enables upper grade-level high school students to learn about the legal field, the structure of law school, and career possibilities for professionals with a J.D. (Juris Doctor). The program allows students to develop knowledge about the process involved with becoming a lawyer while also learning skills and techniques that are used by attorneys in courtrooms throughout the country.
The three-week program provides students with the chance to learn about law through a variety of interesting activities. Participants learn from professional attorneys, take trips to see actual courtrooms and law practices, and take part in discussions about the justice system. The experiences are designed to enrich learning and enable students to become more familiar with the legal system and different types of law within the field.
During the program, students participate in hands-on experiential activities such as debates and mock trials. The active learning exercises are intended to help students get a feel for what it is like to be a lawyer while also enhancing their communication skills.
As a part of the summer program, students also have the opportunity to become more familiar with law school. This includes learning about entrance requirements, recommendations for college courses, and the types of experiences that law school provides.
Beyond exploring the field of law, students gain valuable experience being on a university’s campus and learning in a college setting. Participants have the option of staying overnight in residence halls on the campus or commuting during the program. Students also have access to a variety of facilities and resources on the campus.
There is an application for this program. There are a limited number of need-based scholarships, particularly for students who are commuting to the campus in the local area.
Participants: The program is intended to be for high school students who will be going into their junior or senior year after the summer.
Learn more: Columbia Summer Careers in Law Program
University of Chicago Summer Pathways Program: Law
The University of Chicago offers several different pre-college opportunities for high school students. In the Pathways Program, there is an option for students with an interest in learning about law-related topics, the justice system, the constitution, and more.
The three-week summer program provides the chance for students to delve deeply into interesting legal principles, concepts, and theories. There is a particular focus on the way in which the constitution shapes law, policy, and the legal system. Students learn about significant current and historical court cases that center around constitutional interpretation and law.
During the program, students engage in interesting discussions, hear from legal experts, and enhance their knowledge of legal issues. Participants also gain insight into the way that lawyers apply legal theories in real-world cases. Additionally, the program enables students to learn about law schools and careers in the legal field.
Outside of the law-based educational activities, students participating in the program can stay on the university’s campus and utilize the available campus resources and facilities. There are also a variety of extracurricular activities that students can take part in on the campus and in the Chicago area.
The program has an application. There is need-based financial aid and there are several available scholarship programs.
Participants: The law program is designed for high school students who have completed their freshman, sophomore, or junior year by the summer. Participants should have taken a high school course that includes content about the constitution.
Learn more: U Chicago Summer Legal Pathways Program
University of Southern California Summer Legal Reasoning Program
USC offers a wide range of summer opportunities for high school students. One interesting option that is offered is a law program that focuses on legal thinking, developing effective assertions, and learning about the ways that lawyers approach issues and cases.
The four-week summer program provides students with the opportunity to go inside the mind of an attorney. There are a variety of law-related topics covered, including significant court cases, precedents, the justice system, legal briefs, and more. Participants also have the chance to see law in action with a visit to a federal courthouse. Additionally, students learn about the structure of law school as well as standard admission criteria.
The summer programs at USC provide students with the option of staying as a resident on the campus or commuting. There is an application for the program.
Participants: High school students who have finished their freshman year by the start of the program.
Learn More: USC Summer Legal Program
Georgetown Summer Law Academy Program
Georgetown has a law-based summer program that is designed for high school students with an interest in the legal system. The program provides students with the opportunity to learn about the field of law through a variety of resources at the university and in Washington D.C.
The week-long summer program covers a wide range of important and engaging topics. Students learn about legal procedures, the formation of laws, the way in which a trial is conducted, juvenile justice, significant court cases, national security, contemporary issues, and more. During the program, students have a chance to engage in a wide range of activities that include visiting relevant government institutions in Washington, D.C. and a mock trial. Additionally, students hear from experienced professionals in the field of law to enhance their understanding of legal issues and gain insight into career options in the field of law.
Students have the option of staying on the campus during the program or commuting to the university. There is an application process for the program.
Participants: High school students who will have completed the ninth, tenth, or eleventh grade before beginning the program.
Learn more: Georgetown Summer Law Academy
Illinois Institute of Technology Summer Pre-Law Program
IIT has summer programs in a range of areas that are designed to help high school students extend their learning, explore topics of interest, and develop new skills. One of the summer programs that is offered is a pre-law program, which is designed to provide students with the opportunity to learn about law school, career options for attorneys, and significant legal issues.
Through the week-long summer program, participants have the chance to engage in discussions about legal issues, analyze real court cases, develop an understanding of the court system, and gain skills that are utilized by lawyers. The program is designed to give students a feel for law school based on the learning activities and the topics that are covered. Additionally, students can take part in a structured simulation that enables them to apply their learning and get a better idea of what it is like to be an attorney.
The pre-law summer program provides high school students with the opportunity to gain experience learning on a college campus. The program is designed to be a day program that takes place throughout the course of a week.
Participants: High school students who will be going into sophomore, junior, or senior year after the summer.
Learn more: IIT Pre-Law Summer Program