Local Attorneys Teach Kids About the Law

Daily Progress Article

by Tasha Kates

Between explanations of the differences in criminal and civil law, eighth-graders at Buford Middle School raised their hands with pressing questions.
Yvonne Griffin – Partner
They asked local lawyers Yvonne Griffin and David Irvine about everything from why they wanted to practice law to if a person who is a lawyer can represent himself.
When asked if she had ever represented a famous person, Griffin said she didn’t think she had. “An infamous person, maybe,” Irvine said, drawing laughter.
Charlottesville area lawyers spent time in Buford Middle School classrooms on Friday as part of the Rule of Law Project, an educational initiative through the Virginia Bar Association. The program uses volunteers to bring middle school civics lessons to life.
Before Friday’s visit, students in Andy Jones’ and Brad Presley’s civics classes spent time doing homework assignments tailored to the law and visited the Charlottesville General District Court to see the law in action.
“These lawyers have come in on their own time,” Jones said. “It’s a great way to get students to understand what jobs are out there and what lawyers really do.”
Irvine, who has been practicing for three years, said volunteering was a worthwhile experience.
“I think the Rule of Law as a concept that is very important to teach students early in their education so they can begin to appreciate the principles that apply to them and apply in the community with regard to their legal rights and responsibilities,” he said.
Anne Evans, the social studies coordinator for Charlottesville City Schools, said the Rule of Law Project has an added benefit of introducing students to careers. On the way out of class Friday, several students expressed an interest in becoming lawyers.
This was the second year that local lawyers have entered middle-school classrooms, said James P. Cox III, a local lawyer and past president of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association. The program expanded to Burley Middle School in Albemarle County this year, Cox said, and the association is hoping for it to spread to other schools in the spring. A Charlottesville High School class in criminal law also participated in the program.

The Virginia Law Foundation gave the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association a $2,000 grant this year to help implement the program. The funding was used to buy a classroom set of “The Criminal Law Handbook” for the high school class and a classroom set of “Leapholes,” a law-focused fictional work, for Buford.

Tucker Griffin Barnes is proud of Yvonne’s continued public service.

Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C.
Charlottesville, VA



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