Fridays, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

What is “justice”? Who defines what that means? How does society change the definition of that term, or does it? What role does empathy play in our “justice system”? What is the debate between retribution and rehabilitation? Should we value one more than the other? What is the focus of our legal system and does it produce “just” results?

We will be exploring all of these questions and more! Students will be introduced to legal concepts and gain confidence in their critical thinking skills, while at the same time gaining a deeper understanding of our legal system. Class will be highly interactive and incorporate the Socratic method, can you tell? J We will also have a field trip to a court house scheduled for a “non-class” day. The date will be determined with the families enrolled in the class.

The first semester we will discuss what laws are, what constitutes a good law, and whether or not there should even BE a law! We will explore the origin of our common law legal system and how laws develop within our republican form of government. The students will also be exposed to case law and how lawyers “brief” cases. The book we will use is one that entering “One L’s” use when attending William and Mary School of Law.

The second semester will focus on the trial process, culminating in an actual Mock Trial at the end of the year. Students will learn first-hand what goes into a successful court case and why all those television shows are wrong! Students will learn about and conduct all aspects of a trial: jury selection, opening statements, direct and cross examination, and closing arguments. The students will work with their co-counsel to develop a theory of their case, prep their “witnesses” for trial, and then carry out the trial as a team.

 Expectations: Students are expected to come to class prepared, having completed their homework and ready to discuss what was assigned. I do not regurgitate materials, I use class time to apply what they have learned, to review their work, and to allow time for them to discuss and debate ideas.

Cost: $300 for the year

Materials: An Introduction to Law, Law Study, and the Lawyer’s Role by James E. Moliterno and Frederic Ira Lederer (3rd Edition) ISBN 978-1594607929

Field trip: to local courthouse, date and time tbd

Homework: The time spent on homework will vary with the student’s abililties, but students should expect to spend 3-5 hours each week. More time may be spent during trial preparation as the teams discuss the case and work as a team.

Dinner and a Movie: We will also get together outside of class for “Dinner and a Movie” once a month for some legal fun and discussion! If a student cannot make the event they can watch the movie on their own that week. It would be a great family activity as well! This time would be in addition to the above-mentioned homework time.

This class is not only for those who think they would like to practice law; it is for anyone who is affected by our laws!

Instructor: Leslee Dirnberger (Mrs. D or Mama D to her students) is a graduate of the College of William and Mary (BA, 1989) and Washington University in St. Louis (JD, 1994). During law school and her years of practice, Mrs. D worked for the Subcommittee on Crime in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and law firms in St. Louis, Chicago and Washington D.C. She was a local prosecutor, acted as lead counsel in cases around the nation in Federal Court, oversaw nationally televised Congressional hearings, drafted Federal legislation, and rewrote numerous Federal and local laws. Mrs. D has also taught paralegal classes in Litigation and Legal Research and Writing for Roosevelt University.

As a former litigator, Mrs. D. enjoys utilizing her skills to encourage students’ natural desire to solve problems, to have their opinions heard, and to help others. She has taught classes in US Government, Leadership, Pre-Law/Mock Trial, and Critical Thinking to homeschoolers for 10 years. Her students thrive as Mrs. D employs the Socratic method of teaching to develop students’ critical thinking skills.

Mrs. D is also the Founder of Empower Ventures, LLC (EMPOWER) whose purpose is to create opportunities for people to take hold of their futures. Through unique, hands-on online classes, camps, and trips the team at Empower embraces the best of technology while recognizing the importance and significance of personal interaction.