2007 Youth Law Fair

In spite of a chilly March 17, St. Patrick’s Day morning, 153 middle and high school students converged on the District of Columbia Courthouse for the eighth annual Youth Law Fair. Sponsored by the Litigation Section of the D.C. Bar in conjunction with the D.C. Superior Court, this year’s theme, “Internet Vulnerability: Teens and Risk” focused on the widespread use of the Internet by youth and the potential consequences of providing personal information indiscriminately to a world-wide audience.

At the morning Speak Out session a majority of the student participants indicated that they have posted personal information on the Web and over half of the participants have their own e-mail addresses. Many used Web logs and social networking sites, which their parents were unaware of or unfamiliar with, on a regular basis.

This year’s mock trials focused on an adult chatting and arranging to meet with a teen “for some fun.” With guidance from volunteer attorneys, court clerk witnesses, and sitting judges, the four trials highlighted the vulnerability of young people, the possible predatory intentions of others in chat rooms, and unknown risks of sharing information on the Web.

In addition to the mock trials, high points of the fair were tours of courtrooms and holding cells by Superior Court judges and exhibits that engaged the students, or provided pertinent information on Internet safety, summer job opportunities, beneficial programs, and youth activities. Following the presentation of verdicts from each trial the Youth Law Fair concluded with an exciting and entertaining drawing of exceptional door prizes patterned on the show “Deal or No Deal.”

This year’s Youth Law Fair hosted 12 exhibitors and received corporate support from Coca-Cola and the Washington National Baseball Club, and financial support from 5 of the 19 cosponsoring Sections.