About Us

Kid Judge

Our Mission

Discovering Justice’s mission is to prepare young people to value the justice system, realize the power of their own voices, and embrace civic responsibility by connecting classrooms and courtrooms.

WHAT WE DO

Founded in 1998 and incorporated as an independent nonprofit in 2001, Discovering Justice is a Boston-based civic and justice education nonprofit organization. We offer innovative in-school, after-school, and courthouse field trip programs that teach elementary and

middle school students about the justice system, the role of law in a democratic society, and the fundamental importance of good citizenship.

By placing a special emphasis on underserved communities, Discovering Justice’s programs are changing students’ lives and school climates. We teach children to use their voices to advocate for themselves and others through learning about democratic values, history, justice, and civic responsibility.

Students who participate in Discovering Justice develop a sense of personal responsibility and respect for others, learn that they can make a difference in their lives and their communities, and become cognizant of the value of their participation in society. Our programs teach students that they play a critical role in the decisions that shape our history. We believe that in order for democracy to survive and flourish, children need to develop this knowledge from an early age.

Today, thanks to the efforts of hundreds of supporters and volunteers — judges, lawyers, teachers, business leaders, vendors, students, and parents — more than 140,000 children and adults have taken part in Discovering Justice’s interactive civic education programs. We are proud and privileged to work with these individuals to help strengthen democracy by educating and inspiring the next generation.

Why Civic Education

Youth ages 18-25 who said they regularly followed public affairs
High school seniors demonstrated a “basic” or “below basic” understanding of the American government
Students who take civics classes more likely to believe they are responsible for improving society
Students who take civics classes are more likely to vote

Civic education has languished in recent years in the face of high-stakes testing and increasingly demanding educational requirements. With it, young people’s interest in and understanding of our democracy and justice system has diminished. In 2000, only 5% of young people between the ages of 18-25 said that they regularly followed public affairs. In a recent civics assessment, 75% of high school seniors demonstrated a “basic” or “below basic” understanding of how American government works.

There is also a vast educational achievement gap in our country, which often prevents underserved children from reaching higher education and succeeding (using the most expansive definition of success) in life. Civic education is a frequently overlooked way to address these challenges. Through civic education, students develop the skills and attitudes needed to effectively voice an opinion and act on their beliefs. Students develop a sense of personal responsibility, learn that they can make a difference in their lives and their communities, and become cognizant of the value of their participation.

Civic education must begin early. Research shows that by the end of elementary school, the average student’s sense of civic or political identity has, in large part, been formed. Discovering Justice recognizes this opportunity, providing robust civic education programs for children as young as six.

Effective civic education also has long-term benefits. Research shows that students who take civics classes are 23% more likely to believe they are responsible for improving society and 14% more likely to vote than those who did not. Civic education can be a powerful motivator to students and an antidote to apathy and disengagement.

School-based civic education, however, is in decline:

-Today only one civics/government class is required in high school in all 50 states, as compared to an average of three civics classes required in the 1960s.

-Elementary and middle school civics classes are not required in any state in the country.

Discovering Justice addresses this challenge by providing engaging civic education programs that work in concert with state requirements and lessons that teachers are already using. Our programs complement classroom-based learning and help students to understand the relationship between what they learn in school and how they relate to their peers and to society.

James St.Clair Time Magazine

Our History

Discovering Justice was founded in 1998 with the support of the federal judiciary at Boston’s John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse and the Boston Bar Foundation. The founding goal of the organization was to educate the public about the role of the justice system in American democracy, and specifically to turn the Moakley U.S. Courthouse into a center of community and civic activity.

In 2001, the Project was named in honor of Boston litigator James D. St.Clair and incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with its main headquarters in the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse.

“[James D. St.Clair] was courtly and courteous, but a vigorous advocate. You don’t see that style anymore.”
  — Jerome P. Facher, Partner, WilmerHale (former law partner of St.Clair)

Read the Tribute to James D. St.Clair, by William Lee, Co-Managing Partner of WilmerHale published in the Wellesley Townsman, March 15, 2001.

Our Board

Deborah S. Birnbach
Board Chair

Partner
Goodwin Procter LLP

Thaddeus Beal
Painter;
Former Prosecutor

Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office;
Former Partner
Nixon Peabody

John H. Chu
Clerk

Co-Founding and Managing Partner
Chu, Ring & Hazel LLP

Anthony M. Doniger
Partner
Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.

Jeremy B. Eisemann
AVP & Legislative Counsel
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Richard Henken
President
Schochet Companies

Anthony Jordan
Partner
Ernst & Young LLP

Peter Levine
Associate Dean for Research
Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Tufts University

Joshua S. Levy
Vice Chair
Partner
Ropes & Gray

Emiley Lockhart
General Counsel & Policy Director
MA Senator Eileen Donoghue

Cynthia Malm
Community Volunteer

Terence McGinnis
Commissioner of Banks
Massachusetts

Joseph J. Mueller
Partner
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

Gary A. Spiess
Former Executive Vice President and General Counsel
FleetBoston Financial Company

Benjamin Taylor
Vice Chair
Former Publisher
Boston Globe

Abim Thomas
Partner 
Goodwin Procter LLP

OUR STAFF

Under Construction. Check Back Soon!

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CONTACT US

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