Media Releases

LAWS program advances at-risk students to the ‘head of the class’

May 31, 2010

TORONTO, ON – A mentorship program matching University of Toronto law students with marginalized teens in downtown Toronto high schools celebrates five years of successfully improving the school attendance, grades, engagement and future outlook of its participants.

The Law in Action Within Schools is a partnership with the Faculty of Law and the Toronto District School Board, specifically with Central Technical School, Harbord Collegiate Institute, and since 2008, Monarch Park Collegiate. The program uses law-themed education and real-world experiences to provide students with the skills, knowledge and confidence to succeed in school, and meaningfully consider post-secondary education.

LAWS was evaluated annually at CTS and HCI by the Toronto District School Board since its launch in fall 2005, and the outstanding results are in:
• Impact on attendance: Since Year 1, CTS LAWS students have missed approximately 30 per cent fewer days, or 8-9 fewer days of school than other students at CTS in similar grades
• Impact on grades: Students were increasingly more successful in their LAWS courses in each successive year, earning higher proportions of their LAWS credits, and obtaining higher-than-average grades than in the previous year. For each of the courses adapted for LAWS in Grades 10-12, the average marks of LAWS students exceeded those of other students in parallel courses.
• Impact on post-secondary education outlook: The proportion of LAWS students that enrolled in post-secondary institutions in Ontario was 74 per cent, exceeding the total of the CTS student body at 49 per cent, and the total of the TDSB at 58 per cent.
• Impact on attitudes: The majority of LAWS students rated their experiences as good or excellent – 87 per cent at CTS and 86 per cent at HCI. Students indicated LAWS had a great impact on their hope for future success, their analytical skills, ability for teamwork, public speaking and presentation skills.
Volunteer law students and law professors, and members of the justice sector deliver interactive classroom workshops on legal issues. Other activities include tutoring programs, visits to law-related workplaces and post-secondary institutions, job shadowing in courthouses, law firm mentoring programs, paid summer jobs in the justice sector, and networking with a variety of law-related professionals at career fairs .
“UofT Faculty of Law has a proud tradition of working closely with our local community to create positive social change,” says Alexis Archbold, LAWS’ first program director. “The LAWS program is a wonderful example of the impact of collaborating with high schools to encourage students from traditionally marginalized groups to consider careers in law and to pursue university education.”
LAWS is pleased to present its third graduation ceremony for CTS students on June 4, 2010 at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.
“This year’s graduating LAWS class is made up of talented and engaged students from very diverse backgrounds, many of whom are going on to university and college as the first members of their families to pursue post- secondary education” says Sarah Pole, the current LAWS director.
To find out more about the program, or to book interviews with law and high school students, contact Sarah Pole, directorlaws.law@utoronto.ca or 416-978-5841.

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For more information, please contact:

Lucianna Ciccocioppo
Lucianna.ciccocioppo@utoronto.ca
416-946-0334