Since 2008, the Legal Education Outreach (LEO) program at the Allard School of Law has been reaching out to local high school students with the goal to inspire them to consider a legal education. LEO has been growing since then. Just this past November they had 44 law student volunteers deliver workshops to approximately 813 students at 12 schools.
The program engages with high school students throughout the Greater Vancouver region by exposing them to legal topics such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, criminal law, and contract law. At the end of each workshop, law students discuss their own reasons for attending law school and take questions about post-secondary education.
We caught up with third-year law student and president of LEO, Eliza Brown, to talk about the impact of LEO in the community.
What made you join LEO?
I joined LEO because they came to my school! I get to tell volunteers that LEO works.
I was in Law 12 in 2010-2011, which would’ve been pretty early on in LEO’s history, and they had great workshops even back then. It was the first time I had ever met a law student, let alone a university student, so it was a really big deal. I wanted to be able to help other high school students experience what I did.
I joined the executive last year (I was Vice President External then) so I could bring back what I call “Allard Visits” to the LEO program: bringing students to campus to visit the law building, students, and faculty. When my class visited UBC in grade 12, Allard Hall wasn’t open yet, but I was still hooked (and it was a room without windows)! We got to see a real lecture hall and meet law students and professors. It was a great opportunity, and it left a lasting impression. I basically wanted to make sure we had a really solid workshop and event plan that could be followed in future.
What do you think is the most important thing high school students can take away from attending workshops and/or meeting with law students?
Students see what’s possible. LEO shows them they too can make it to law school (and learn interesting things when they get there). As part of our workshops, we introduce ourselves and explain where we went to high school. I think it is really special to go back to your old school (which I was able to do last year) and tell students they can do it! And let them know they can study whatever they’re passionate about at post-secondary.
What are some other ways that our students, faculty and alumni can get involved?
Firstly, I have to say join LEO if you’re a student. We’ll be looking for more volunteers for our workshops over reading break next term (it’s not too late to join). As for faculty and alumni, if anyone has ideas for events that could be included, or wants to help make it possible, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.