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Informed Citizens

are Better Citizens

Part of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s mission is to be a resource for educators by providing civics and law-related materials for classroom use. To help achieve this mission, NJSBF produces two publications—The Legal Eagle, and Respect.

Each issue is a valuable, easy-to-use resource for students and educators. With colorful graphics, glossaries and discussion questions, every article provides the perfect, ready-made lesson plan. Each publication, and the individual articles, are available to download from the Foundation’s website. Printed copies are distributed three times per year, free of charge, to schools in New Jersey on a subscription or request basis. Over 3,500 teachers from all over the country subscribe to receive digital copies.

The Legal Eagle, a legal newspaper for kids, was first published in 1996 to create a law-related program for middle school students. Today, The Legal Eagle is distributed to more than 1,500 elementary, middle and high schools across New Jersey.

Respect, a newsletter about diversity and inclusion issues, was first published in 2001. Respect examines social justice topics such as bias in the education system, legal protections for people from diverse backgrounds, police reform and more. Copies of Respect are sent to more than 1,100 middle and high schools in New Jersey every year.

Educators have shared that Legal Eagle and Respect make civics and the law real for students by showing them the importance of our government system and how it affects them. Almost every article touches on civics curriculum and ties into current events, focusing on issues that students are aware of and want to talk about. The information is presented in a way that helps students understand how this issue is relevant to them.

We asked the editorial board chairs about the importance of these publications. Here is what they shared:

Helping kids think critically
John Henschel, chair of The Legal Eagle editorial board, started volunteering at the Foundation in 1994 as a mock trial coach. He has been on many Foundation committees, served on its Board of Trustees and was its former president. He is currently a board member at the Center for Great Expectations.

“With the Legal Eagle, young people obtain reliable facts about the law so they can formulate their own understanding and think critically about a particular subject. The law can be complex, overwhelming and highly technical, especially when explained to young people. The Legal Eagle is a factually accurate, well-written and easy to understand resource educators use to supplement a lesson plan that can spark a student’s interest in the law and current legal issues,” Henschel said.

Making law relevant
Tamara J. Britt joined the Respect editorial board in 2016 and became its chair last year. She has served on the Foundation’s Board and is vice president and general counsel at Teachers College, Columbia University.

“My hope is that after reading Respect, students and educators understand that they must become participants in the legal system, not just bystanders. I believe the focus on diversity issues in Respect are not just for K–12 students. Everyone can learn from this publication, and others from the Foundation, about the law and issues that affect everyone in New Jersey, the country, even themselves,” Britt said.

Do you know a teacher or educator who would benefit from the Foundation’s publications? Let them know about The Legal Eagle and Respect. To download, subscribe and order copies click HERE.

Originally published February 13, 2023
Bar Report of the New Jersey State Bar Association