Discovering Justice’s Stand Up for Your Rights

Boston, MA

Hear ye, hear ye! Stand Up for Your Rights is now in session.

Discovering Justice’s Stand Up for Your Rights curriculum is an innovative after-school program that teams eight to twelve Boston-area middle school students with attorney volunteers. These young people, all of whom attend underserved, low-income schools and are considered young people who are at risk, spend 11 weeks learning about the American justice system and preparing their own appellate arguments. The program culminates in the presentation of their arguments in front of an Appellate Panel—comprised of one member of the judiciary and two senior attorneys—to provide a realistic sense of the appellate process. These presentations are held at the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston.

“The trip downtown to argue a case in front of a real judge was one of the high points of my summer last year,” offered one participant.

Students value the public speaking, writing and critical thinking skills they hone in the program. Staff reports a jump in participant self-esteem, as well as increased content knowledge about the Bill of Rights.

Thanks in part to a grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation, Stand Up for Your Rights was able to increase the number of students it serves and expand its curriculum to include the First Amendment.

One highlight from the program was a visit by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to the culminating event for the South Boston Boys & Girls Club “attorneys.” He shook their hands and watched the proceedings.

“These kids are good!” he exclaimed.