Citizens’ Law Academy (CLA) is an adult education program offered free to attendees. CLA is coordinated by the Idaho Law Foundation’s Law Related Education Program in collaboration with District Bar Associations, Idaho Courts, and attorneys from both the public and private sectors. CLA aims to help participants:
- Appreciate the laws effecting their daily lives as well as their rights under the law
- Discover what lawyers do, how they serve the public, and how problems are resolved in the profession
- Understand how the judicial system works
- Learn about how lawyers’ public service and pro bono work
For more information about Citizens' Law Academy, contact Carey Shoufler at 208-334-4500.
In early 2000, the Idaho State Bar and Idaho Law Foundation convened a joint committee known as the Public Information Committee to promote public awareness of the nature of the legal system, the importance of the rule of law, and the essential role of the lawyer in a just society. In 2008, Citizens’ Law Academy became a project of the Idaho Law Foundation’s Law Related Education Program.
Patterned after the highly successful Citizens’ Police Academy, CLA evolved into a 10- to 12-week public information program developed and delivered by members of the legal community and coordinated by the Law Related Education Program. The weekly classes are offered in various parts of the state in the fall or in the spring. Classes typically run for two hours. Since 2000, over 1000 citizens have participated in Citizens’ Law Academy in nearly all corners of Idaho.
Citizens’ Law Academy is opened to anyone 18 years or older. Approximately two months prior to the program, applications are made available to the public. The application includes questions that help organizers understand the backgrounds and level of interest from potential participants. Applications are screened by Idaho Law Foundation staff and/or members of the District Bar organizing CLA, looking for a broad cross section of people, wide demographic profiles, a high level interest from the applicants, indicated from their response to questions as well as their involvement in their communities, and a commitment to attendance. Typically 25 to 35 people participate in a session.
Participants have an opportunity to evaluate each of the sessions as well as provide overall program; feedback is used to make any necessary adjustments to future programs. Overall, the program has been rated very highly by the participants.
Often participants go on to volunteer with other Bar and Foundation activities, such as serving as non-attorney members of our standing committees or acting as non-attorney judges for our for mock trials.
The program is staffed by volunteers from the legal community. Staff includes practicing attorneys, judges, and staff from the Idaho State Bar and Law Foundation who serves as faculty and discussion leaders on topics selected by District Bars and modified to be most applicable to citizens in various areas of the state.
While the specific topics covered vary depending on which District Bar Association is organizing the Academy, core topics include:
- The Foundation of Our Legal System: Taught by a Federal judge, this class includes a discussion of the historical basis of our legal system, the Constitution and the importance of the rule of law.
- Our Modern Court System: Taught by a District Judge, this class provides an overview of our court system and insight into the various roles of judges and staff members who work for the courts.
- Cops and Bad Guys: Truth v. Fiction in Criminal Cases: Taught by a prosecutor and a public defender this class uses a fictitious criminal case to discuss the typical procedures and rights involved in a criminal case from the investigative stage through arrest, prosecution, and conviction.
- Arguing for a Second Opinion: The Appeal Process: Taught by an Idaho Supreme Court Justice, participants learn the process of appealing a trial court decision.
- All in a Day’s Work: Employment Law: Two attorneys who specialize in the practice of employment law use a fictitious employment discrimination claim as to launch a discussion on the evolution of a civil lawsuit from the filing of a complaint to trial.
- How Lawyers are Governed: The Bar Counsel for the Idaho State Bar discusses how lawyers are admitted to the Bar, how they are governed, and the procedures and rules involved.
- Is It Really Like the Movies?: A panel of attorneys critiques clips from popular movies, and discuss what really happens in and out of the courtroom
Typically, classes are organized by Judicial Districts, which are grouped together by counties as follows:
- First District: (Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties)
- Second District: (Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce Counties)
- Third District: (Adams, Canyon, Gem Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties)
- Fourth District: (Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley Counties)
- Fifth District: (Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, and Twin Falls Counties)
- Sixth District: (Bannock, Bear Lake, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida, and Power Counties)
- Seventh District: (Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Custer, Jefferson, Madison, Clark, Fremont, Lemhi, and Teton Counties)
Currently scheduled classes include:
*Please note that dates, times, and locations for Citizens’ Law Academy are subject to change.