Honors Legal Studies Program
American Heritage School is pleased to offer students the Honors Legal StudiesProgram. This program challenges ninth through twelfth grade students who have an interest in the law and encourages students to consider the legal field as a potential profession. The program is taught at the honors level and exposes students to unique and challenging courses not usually offered in high school. In addition, the Honors Legal Studies Program emphasizes writing and communication skills which are important for all students, but essential to those interested in the practice of law. In addition to course work, there are internships offered to upperclassmen, which include the offices of the State Attorney, Public Defender, county and circuit judges, and private attorneys. These experiences lend students unique insight into the legal system.
At all levels, the curriculum is enhanced by contact with legal professionals:
- LECTURES, INTERNSHIPS & COMPETITIONS
- INTERNSHIP WITH LEGAL PROFESSIONALS REQUIRED FOR UPPERCLASSMEN
Students must meet the admission and academic requirements of the Legal Studies Program.
Mock Trial Team
American Heritage School sponsors a Mock Trial Team as part of the Legal Studies Program. The team competes with other student teams from throughout the region, the state, and, when successful in competition, other areas of the country.
Competing teams are given a legal case for which they must be prepared to testify as witnesses in open court. Some students are assigned roles as attorneys and must be prepared to give opening and closing statements, as well as direct and cross examinations.
Students are trained in the rules of evidence and courtroom procedure. Interested students meet in two hour segments, usually twice weekly in the school’s mock courtroom. They are advised and supervised by an experienced and respected area attorney.
Prelaw Society & Model UN
Students taking Legal Studies courses may also participate in the Prelaw Society and the Model U.N. The Prelaw Society provides students with an additional understanding of the American legal system through guest lecturers that include judges and prosecutors, civil and criminal attorneys, medical examiners and representatives of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. The Model U.N. allows students an opportunity to discuss international legal issues and world-wide problems. Both groups are involved in fundraising projects for groups in need at the local, national and international levels. Projects have included: “The Innocents’ Project,” “Saving Darfur” and “The Columbian School System.”
SAMPLE PRE-LAW CURRICULUM
In order to complete the Law Studies Program, students must take a total of 5.5 credits. The requirements are listed below. In order to remain in the program, students must maintain a 3.75 GPA in all Law Studies classes.
- Business Law (1 credit)
- Criminal Law I Semseter 1 (.5 credit)
- Criminal Law II Semester 2 (.5 credit)
- Constitutional Law (1 credit)
- Juvenile Law (.5 credit)
- Legal Internship Semester 2 (.5 credit)
Electives: (choose THREE) :
- Family Law Semester 1 (.5 credit)
- International Law Semester 2 (.5 credit)
- Homicide (.5 credit)
- *Evidence Semester 1 (.5 credits)
- *Trial Advocacy Semester 2 (.5 credits)
*Enrollment in Evidence and Trial Advocacy is limited to students who are recommended by the Program Director.
- Business Law is prerequisite for ALL Law Studies courses.
- A “B” or higher in Business Law is required to continue with the program.
- Evidence and Trial Advocacy must be taken in the same year.
- Criminal Law I & II are prerequisites for Homicide
Some students recognize their interest in law before they begin college – and for them, it only makes sense to follow that passion and learn more about the profession as early as high school. This way, not only can they find out whether they want to continue to pursue this direction, but they can also create a strong foundation that will help them get accepted to the college law program of their choice.
Here are a few tips to help high school students get a head start on a successful career in law.
Keep a broad spectrum of classes
There is no “best” concentration of courses for law; in fact, law schools accept students with a wide range of majors. It is always important to form a solid foundation of education to prepare you for college and beyond. In fact, many schools prefer a student who demonstrates wide interests and is well-rounded when it comes to knowledge.
Maintain a high grade-point average
What matters most with your courses is that you keep your grades up in all of them. No matter how strong your course load and how many AP classes you are taking, your chances of finding your way into a law career will weaken if your grades are low. This advice holds true for almost any profession!
Take challenging AP classes
Lawyers spend much more time reading and writing than they do in court. Whether it’s researching case law, interpreting precedent, evaluating contracts or writing briefs, these skills are paramount for a successful attorney. Because of this, taking high-level classes that incorporate substantial reading and writing will serve a number of purposes.
They will strengthen your skills in areas that are important for college, law school and your future career as a lawyer. At the same time, the classes – and your grades in them – will show up on your transcript, demonstrating the hard work you’re doing to acquire key skills necessary to succeed as a lawyer.
Get hands-on experience
It is never too soon to begin getting experience in your chosen profession. While a summer job in a law firm, legal department or courthouse is a great step, even better would be an internship for course credit. This will help you learn more about what lawyers actually do from day to day, and what types of law jobs are available. Beyond the experience itself, this will be a strong addition to your resume which will help you build your career.
Build your network
Grades and scores matter – but so does knowing people who can help you find your way throughout your career. While you are in high school, look to build relationships with faculty members and legal professionals whenever possible. Not only will you need recommendations for internships, college, law school, and ultimately for jobs, it is also always helpful to have mentors to guide and teach you all along the way.
Choose a school with a pre-law program
It is not often that students get the opportunity to begin to build their legal skills while still in high school. In our Honors Legal Studies Program, offered to students in ninth through twelfth grade, American Heritage School challenges students interested in a law career with courses not usually offered in high school. The Honors Legal Studies Program emphasizes essential writing and communication skills; upperclass students also have opportunities for internships delivering experience and insight into the legal system. With a champion mock trial team, Prelaw Society, Model UN and many additional opportunities, our program is perfect for ambitious students interested in a career in law.
Students heading for high school may feel they have ample time to prepare for professional school. However, getting an early start is always a smart move. Even if you decide that you want to go a different way with your career, learning about the law and working hard to get solid experience will help you in any profession you choose.