High School Students Go to Law Camp

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 03, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The new 'law camp' at Brigham Young University is not exactly what you think it is.

Yes, BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School sits in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountain Range. But no, the students attending the "Civics, Law and Leadership Youth Camp" in Salt Lake City are not camping in the wilderness. They are camping at the courthouse, however, and that makes them pioneers in another way.

Pioneering Camp

Judge Michael Newman, president of the Federal Bar Association, said he believes it is the first camp of its kind. Co-sponsored by BYU, the association wants it to be a model for court camps nationally.

"When students come to these camps, they learn about civics, and what is so powerful to me, you can just see the spark in their eyes as they learn about the court system and learn on a real practical level what fairness and due process and justice are all about," Newman told the Daily Herald.

More than 70 students, coming from 20 states, signed up for the program. They have law students as mentors and spend five days at the camp, which includes speakers and moot court.

Gayla Sorenson, the dean of admissions at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, said it is a "real opportunity for us to practice what we preach in terms of being able to take the curriculum we have and the feedback we get and share it with other schools."

Bar Associations

Other bar associations host law camps for youth. The New York State Bar Association, for example, holds a mock trial institute for high school students each summer.

The National Bar Association -- with support from the Hispanic Bar Association, the Native American Bar Association and the National Asian Pacific Bar Association -- also has a law camp for high school students.

The Federal Bar Association launched its initiative for court camps last year with a day program. The BYU-affiliated camp is the first residential program.

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