Streetlaw Day of Volunteering
The following post was written by Maria Gonzalez, our 1L Communications Representative.
As a first year, let’s just say October has not been kind. From having to dust off my fall sweaters
to the daunting threat of outlines, I have been feeling exhausted. It feels like every day is a
grind of waking up, going to class, reading, more class, more reading, and repeat. Streetlaw’s
Day of Volunteering was a wake-up call I desperately needed.
On October 26, WLC partnered with Streetlaw, as they hosted their first Law in Action.
Streetlaw, a student-led afterschool program that teaches high school how the law relates to their every life, hosted local high school students to visit Northwestern campus and “step into the shoes of a law student.” They attended classes with contracts and criminal law professors, took a tour of the campus, and interacted with law students.
Students nervously shuffled in their seats awaiting Professor Nadler’s presentation. She opened with a criminal case about a young boy, the age of many of the students, who had succumbed to
many of the temptations that average high schoolers face. By the first fifteen minutes, it was
apparent that these weren’t your average pair of high schoolers. When asked what crime this
young boy could be charged with, a reserved high schooler raised his hand and said, “Felony
murder,” a term I had just come to know in the last two weeks.
Shy and quiet at first halfway through the class, students were giving little hops in their seats to
answer questions. They quickly understood policy concerns concerning Illinois’ statutes on
felony murder, and even came up with potential solutions on their own. Seeing the relevancy
and necessity to address current issues reminded me of the same fire I felt when first applying
to law school or attending my first class. The chill of Fall had attempted to whimper my spirits,
but I felt completely reinvigorated in getting to see law through the eyes of these students.
At the end of class, the students’ teacher asked Professor Nadler to share the importance of being bilingual in a law profession. Professor Nadler shared her time as a public defender, where only speaking English, she felt that she could not aid her clients the best way possible. She explained how not only can speaking another language help you advocate for those who are separated by a language, but also open other opportunities in other fields of the law profession.
As a Latina law student, I remember being in high school and feeling embarrassed at getting confused between English and Spanish. I could see students’ spirits lifted as they stood a little straighter hearing Prof. Nadler’s words.