May 1, 2011 is Law Day
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 15, 2011 – Law Day is fast approaching.
In 1957, the American Bar Association president envisioned a special national day to recognize the country’s commitment to the rule of law. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day the following year, and Congress issued a joint resolution in 1961 designating May 1 as the official day for celebration.
Law Day is an opportunity to ask and challenge kids:
Why does anyone — no matter how serious the crime for which he or she has been accused — get a lawyer to defend them?
What does “innocent until proven guilty” mean?
And, since Law Day 2011 focuses on John Adams and his defense of British soldiers accused of killing colonists in the Boston Massacre, it might be a good time to take a look at the man who became America’s second president — and first lawyer-president.
A lot of us know about our first president — George Washington — but what about John Adams?
Now for some background …
The ABA and Civic Education:
Law Day is an opportunity to highlight civic education. Current ABA President Stephen N. Zack has made civic education one of his presidential initiatives, establishing a Commission on Civic Education in the Nation’s Schools, which advocates for civic education and organizes Civics and Law Academies for lawyers and judges to share their expertise and enthusiasm for the law with young people.
This year’s Law Day theme: The Legacy of John Adams: From Boston to Guantanamo:
Five years before the American Revolutionary War began, John Adams represented the British officer and soldiers charged with firing into a crowd of protestors and killing five colonists in the Boston Massacre.
A leader in the American colonial resistance to British parliamentary authority, Adams agreed to take on the soldiers’ cases and ably defended the accused at trial. Adams’ role in the 1770 Boston Massacre trials is a lawyerly exemplar of adherence to the rule of law and defense of the rights of the accused — even in cases when advocates may represent unpopular clients and become involved in matters that generate public controversy.
The 2011 Law Day theme provides an opportunity to assess and celebrate the legacy of John Adams, explore the historical and contemporary role of lawyers in defending the rights of the accused, and renew our understanding of, and appreciation for, the fundamental principle of the rule of law.
While Law Day is officially recognized on May 1, many civics groups and bar associations celebrate with month-long programs, presentations and events leading up to and extending throughout the month of May.
The ABA’s Division for Public Education maintains the Law Day website, which offers a wide range of Law Day program planning materials for schools, court houses, civic groups, lawyers and others.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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