When a student calls a classmate a bad name in class, there’s almost certainly going to be some school discipline. But what about when the same happens over social media? Is a student free to critique peers, without pointing a direct finger, on his or her free time on Facebook? When officers impound a car after an arrest, can they search the car without a warrant? What about the suspect’s smartphone? How do we interpret Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizures) protections in our ever changing society?

Foster High seniors in Andrea Gamboa’s civics class had the opportunity to explore these Constitutional questions like practicing attorneys and judges thanks to a program called Street Law. Legal experts from Ryan Swanson law firm and Allstate Insurance were on campus for two days, leading the students through relevant statutes, applicable Supreme Court decisions, and well-reasoned approaches to different real-life scenarios.

“The students were able to start thinking like legal experts and understanding their own rights within our judicial system,” said Gamboa.

The experience culminated with students visiting Ryan Swanson’s downtown offices to serve as attorneys and justices in moot court. They had prepared throughout May to represent both sides in two different cases, forcing the students to think on their feet about opposing viewpoints and fact patterns.

Street Law is a nonprofit organization that seeks to engage students around issues of law, democracy, and human rights. By using professional lawyers, the program brings a range of practical, accessible, and interactive curricula to schools. The ultimate goal is to empower youth to use their knowledge to solve problems and better their communities, and motivate them to become active participants in society. Hopefully a few young people were inspired to pursue legal careers.

Ryan Swanson’s Jerry Kindinger talks with Foster High seniors about First Amendment legal issues.


The Street Law program concluded with students arguing in moot court at the downtown office of Ryan Swanson.


View all the Street Law pictures: