On Friday, November 18, New York Law School (NYLS) welcomed 108 high school students from the Charter High School for Law and Social Justice to present oral arguments in their Street Law Moot Court competition. This visit is the culmination of The Plumeri Center’s semester-long Street Law Clinic where NYLS law students visit the high school weekly to teach the students. The high schoolers presented their arguments in pairs to volunteer judges, including NYLS faculty, alumni, and lawyers from local law firms. This event was put together by Clinic Founder and Director Amy Wallace, who also serves as NYLS’s Interim Associate Director for Academic Success. “I am so grateful for the amazing support of this program by the NYLS administration,” said Professor Wallace. “The incredible thing about our Street Law program is the dual benefit for (1) my law students who spend a semester refining professional practice skills and (2) the high school students who develop advocacy, cooperation, and critical thinking. The moot court is the perfect capstone for us.”
Each semester, Professor Wallace takes on 10 NYLS students to participate in the Street Law Clinic. The law students spend their first month of classes learning methods and skills for teaching before putting their skills to practice at the Charter School where they teach substantive law to ninth and tenth graders in their Street Law class. NYLS has fostered a close relationship with the Charter School, which was founded by a team led by Professor Richard Marsico, Director of the School’s Wilf Impact Center for Public Interest Law. The law students teach every Friday at the Charter School for eight weeks, then go on to organize the final moot court competition for the teens.
This semester, the Charter School students explored their rights under the First Amendment—specifically freedom of speech, press, and religion—and how their expression at school is covered and potentially limited. The last class that NYLS students taught prepared the high schoolers for their moot court oral arguments. This year, the Charter School students presented oral arguments as Petitioner and Respondent for Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., discussing whether public schools can regulate speech that occurs off-campus. They were given the actual facts from this Supreme Court case, and then crafted their own arguments depending upon which side they represented. The students then spent two weeks on their own in class preparing for their oral arguments, brainstorming counterarguments and policy rationales, and even memorizing their entire speeches before speaking in front of the judges.
When they arrived at NYLS for the competition, the Charter School students were so excited to see the campus and learn more about opportunities in law beyond high school. Throughout the competition, they skillfully synthesized what they learned in their Street Law class to make clear, compelling arguments for their side. Altogether, the NYLS students were proud to see the substantive law they taught being utilized in the high schoolers’ oral arguments and were thrilled that the students were able to experience NYLS.