By Marsha Sills
July 10, 2012
LAFAYETTE — A new legal studies academy at Northside High School will offer students the option to discover legal careers and earn college credit for related coursework.
The Northside High School Academy of Legal Studies builds upon the law courses offered at the school since 2003 and the success of its student mock trial team, which has competed on the state level for three of the past four years.
As part of the academy structure, more law courses will be added to the curriculum now offered to students. Students will have the opportunity to receive up to 12 college credits as part of South Louisiana Community College’s dual enrollment program.
The academy is the district’s newest schools of choice academy. Schools of choice enrollment is open to students across the district. Enrollment in the new legal studies academy is open to incoming freshmen and sophomores, said Liz Tullier, director of the academy of legal studies.
Applications are available at http://www.lafayettechoice.com.
Twenty-five spots are available in both grade levels, Tullier said.
A computerized lottery to select students for the program is July 17, said Burnell LeJeune, district director of schools of choice and career and technical education.
Students may apply for the program through July 17 and the application period will reopen after the lottery to fill any open spots, LeJeune said. Students who don’t receive a spot in the program will be placed on a waiting list, he said.
A total of 61 Northside students who have been taking the law courses offered on the campus will be “grandfathered” into the program, Tullier said.
The academy is designed to prepare students for pre-law studies and careers in criminal justice, law enforcement, public service or jobs in a law office, such as paralegal or legal secretary.
“It’s offering career paths that our students may want to take when they get out of school,” Tullier said. “It’s offering them the background for these career paths.”
Tullier said some recent graduates of her law studies program are headed to law school.
In students’ freshman year, they take an introduction to law course that offers an overview of criminal, civil, constitutional, juvenile and family law.
“It’s the potpourri of law,” Tullier joked.
As part of the four-year program, students will also take courses specific to constitutional law, criminal law, business law, and forensic science and forensic psychology, she said. Students also will be exposed to paralegal research and administrative support occupations, which will offer a look at how to manage a law office.
The partnership with SLCC provides students college-level courses and credit “free of charge to the students on our campus,” Tullier said. The SLCC instructor will teach the students on the Northside campus, she said.
Juniors and seniors also will participate in mock trial and work on building a case for presentation over a nine-week period.
This fall, its mock trial team will compete in the invitation-only Empire City Mock Trial Association’s Empire City Invitational, an international mock trial competition held in New York City. Once invited, teams are screened through an application process. Only 36 are selected.
Tullier said her team will soon receive their case to prepare for the international tournament.
Other preparations for the trip include fundraising to cover students’ expenses, Tullier said.
To learn how to assist the Northside High mock trial team, email Tullier at firstname.lastname@example.org.