Category: News

Discovering Justice Mock Trials December 13, 2022. (Photo/Reba Saldanha)

How You Can Get Involved!

Discovering Justice is able to provide its services to tens of thousands of students across the Commonwealth because of its hundreds of partners and volunteers.

From long-term to one-off opportunities, you can become engaged with Discovering Justice as a volunteer and partner. Contact Senior Outreach & Recruitment Associate Malia Brooks at mbrooks@discoveringjustice.org to learn more about the opportunities below and more short-term opportunities such as being a volunteer juror at the 2-hour Mock Trial Culminating Event or translating our Children Discovering Justice curriculum into Spanish.

Educate Youth About the Judicial System

Meet with middle school student attorneys weekly to examine the workings of the judicial system, explore the ideals of justice, and prepare them to argue a case before a real judge, a jury, or appellate panel in a courthouse at the end of the semester. We have a high need for volunteers in Brockton, Framingham, Lowell, Medford, and Springfield.

  • Position: Legal Mentor
  • Time Commitment: 11 weeks, 90 min/week, 1x/week
  • Experience: Legal background and/or JD preferred, but not required
  • Training : Discovering Justice provides a 2-hour orientation and curriculum including lesson plans, corresponding slide decks, case materials, and teaching tools

Explore History, Architecture, and Justice

Guide community organizations, college students, and interested members of the public on a one-hour tour of the John Joseph Moakley U.S Courthouse. Highlight the workings of the courthouse and how the architecture and art reflect the aspirations and challenges of justice and our democracy.

  • Position: Tour Docent
  • Time Commitment: 1-2 weekdays/month between 9:00 am-4 pm, 60-minute tours, as needed
  • Experience: No experience necessary
  • Training: Orientation from Courthouse Programs Manger, tour shadowing

Guide Grades K-12 students through a field trip in the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse. Volunteers will interact with students and facilitate engaging activities and discussions around justice. Every field trip includes a courthouse tour and one additional activity of your choice. The additional activities for students are either meeting with a judge, courtroom activity about justice, or observing court proceedings. Therefore, this person must be able to stay the whole 90 minutes and support these activities. Lastly, volunteers may be asked to help during lunchtime in addition to supporting getting students through security.

  • Position: Field Trip Volunteer
  • Time Commitment: 1-2 weekdays/week between 9:30 am-4 pm, 90 minutes
  • Experience: Interest and background working with students preferred
  • Training: Orientation from Courthouse Programs Manager, field trip shadowing

Inspire Students to Advocate for Change

Tell your story of advocacy that will inspire young students participating in our Children Discovering Justice elementary civics curriculum to take action on issues that matter to them.

  • Time Commitment: 30-minute Zoom interview
  • Experience: Experience participating in local activism and advocacy, such as movements, campaigns, protests, etc. (Ages 6-26 preferred)
  • Process: We will share all videos for approval before use and credit you in our curriculum
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Photo by Reba Saldanha

Discovering Justice Prepares for a New School Year of Mock Trial

School may be out, but Discovering Justice staff and volunteers are hard at work preparing for the new school year. Lawyers, teachers, law students, and even an expert in legal English education have been instrumental in updating Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial program. Thanks to the group’s efforts, the program will offer a new case on a First Amendment or Fifth Amendment case and a revamped curriculum to middle school students in 35 schools across the region.

“We are excited about the fall and for the opportunity for students to take on these new cases,” said Matt Wilson, Discovering Justice Executive Director. “We appreciate the work of Lynn Bonesteel, Dan Less, David Barry, Jamie Pirog, Siri Carr, James Bor-Zale, and Gwen Walker for all their hard work getting us ready for September.”

In addition, staff is preparing a set of orientations in Boston, Brockton, Lowell, Worcester, and Springfield for the 150 legal mentors and teacher coordinators who will be teaching the new case to middle school students.

For legal professionals, school administrators, or teachers interested in this Fall’s Mock Trial Program, contact Senior Outreach and Recruitment Associate Malia Brooks at mbrooks@discoveringjustice.org.

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Join Discovering Justice as a 2023 Fall Fellow

Discovering Justice is currently hiring for its Fall 2023 Class of Fellows. Do you know a college student or recent graduate who is passionate about civic education and the need to protect and promote our democracy? Through the Fellowship Program, we welcome young professionals onto our staff and entrust them with the responsibility to help carry out our programs.

Fellows work directly with a Discovering Justice staff person to run our civic education programs or build the organization’s operational capacity through our communications outreach, fundraising, and event planning. During the semester-long program, Fellows will lead and complete projects, collaborate with both staff members and other Fellows, and learn more about the state of civic education and the operations of nonprofit organizations. Our staff and volunteers provide an open and welcoming environment that enables Fellows to take on responsibilities and learn core nonprofit skills to help in their careers.

The ideal Fellow:

  • Is passionate about civic education and the need to protect and promote our democracy.
  • Can commit to working 40 hours a week with a dynamic and energetic staff (at least 25 hours for a Part-Time Fellowship).
  • Has excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Loves to work with a team and wants to learn new skills.
  • Is interested in pursuing a career in nonprofits, teaching, or the law.

Open Positions

Civic Education Advocacy Fellowship

The Fellow will work with the Executive Director to engage civic education groups and their constituents in public education and advocacy work to increase Massachusetts’ investment in civic education programs. The Fellow will work with the Executive Director to coordinate meetings with teachers, students, civic leaders, and their legislators to educate them about the civic education being done in their districts and to encourage more resources and support for these programs. Experience with managing events and recruiting and organizing volunteers is required.

Communications Fellowship

The Communications Fellow will work with the Executive Director and Outreach & Recruitment Senior Associate to develop and implement a social and earned media outreach strategy to promote the organization’s civic education programs to volunteers, donors, and community members. Through collaboration with program managers, the Fellow will create and share content including, but not limited to, flyers, videos, graphics, and social media content. The Fellow will also help develop the organization’s electronic and physical communications that frequently broadcast the organization’s activities and programs to partners. Adobe Premiere Pro and Canva, or similar movie and graphic design editing experience preferred.

Children Discovering Justice Internship

During the 23-24 school year, Discovering Justice will be working with over 100 teachers across 20 schools, in at least five districts in Massachusetts (Boston, Chelsea, Springfield, West Springfield, and Dennis/Yarmouth). The Elementary Civics Intern will support the Education Program Director and K-5 Curriculum Developer by conducting in-person classroom visits and observations, researching, gathering data and feedback from teachers and students, and implementing edits based on educator feedback. This internship will be supervised by Victoria Suri, the K-5 Curriculum Developer, and supported by the Education Director. This Fellowship is ideal for a graduate student studying education, human development, and/or civic studies.

Logistics and Application

The Fall 2023 Fellowship will run from September 11 to December 21. Fellows will work two days a week in person at the Moakley Courthouse in Boston, and three days remotely. Limited part-time opportunities are available, but preference is given to candidates with full-time availability.

Fellows will receive a stipend of $3,500 for their term (a proportionate stipend with part-time Fellowships). This Fellowship is ideal for a recent graduate or a college student taking a gap semester or year. Please specify your Fellowship(s) of interest in your email or in your cover letter. To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to Malia Brooks at careers@discoveringjustice.org

Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Women, and LGBTQIA+ people are strongly encouraged to apply.

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Photo by Reba Saldanha

Good Luck Luke!

Help us congratulate and say goodbye to Mock Trial and Mock Appeal Program Manager Luke Matys, who will be leaving staff at the end of July. He will be starting a new job with The Possible Zone, which assists high school students on their vocational and higher education paths.

Hired as a Senior Education Associate in October of 2019, Luke jumped right into the middle of Discovering Justice’s fall Mock Trial program. When COVID hit the next spring, the Mock Appeal Program was put on hold and Luke dove deep into the Programs’ curricula, format, and student lessons to make it available and accessible online. In the Fall of 2020, the program resumed and old and new schools joined the Program virtually. In 2021, Luke was promoted to Program Manager and his leadership has helped grow the Programs to nearly 30 teams, more than doubling its pre-pandemic size.

“Luke’s ability and passion for building connections with legal mentors, teachers, school administrators, and middle school students made him a unique fit to manage the Mock Appeal and Mock Trial Programs,” said Matt Wilson, Discovering Justice’s Executive Director. “We know he will excel in his new role at The Possible Zone.”

Luke accomplished much in his four years here. And he did it all with his wit and a smile on his face.

  • With the help of legal volunteers, he created two new cases for the Programs, one on First Amendment free speech issues and the other on 4th Amendment search and seizure issues.
  • He led the expansion of our work in many of the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities – Brockton, Framingham, Lowell, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester.
  • He trained and oversaw nine Mock Trial/Appeal Fellows providing training and mentorship to these young professionals and helping them start their nonprofit career.
  • Each semester he trained and managed more than 125 mentors and more than 25 teachers a semester to serve the 400+ students in the Programs.
  • He oversaw the first team outside of Massachusetts with the addition of a middle school in Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Under his management, the Programs now have its culminating events in the Moakley and ten Federal and District Courts across the Commonwealth.

While the staff at Discovering Justice is sad to see Luke leave, we are excited to see what is next for him and how he continues to use his skills and talents to help educate and energize the next generation.

-Matt Wilson and the whole Discovering Justice Staff

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Programs for College Students and Law Students at the Moakley

College students and law students now have the opportunity to experience the justice system firsthand through tours, meetings with federal judges, and court observations at the Moakley Courthouse. It is the perfect chance for these students to get an inside look into the workings of the justice system.

This tour allows students to explore law in action and learn about the art, architecture, and history of this civic space. The 2-3 hour College Student Court Visit consists of an hour guided tour of the building, a visit with a Federal Judge or other Legal Professionals at the Moakley, and/or observation of the First Circuit Court of Appeals oral arguments or District Court hearings. This is a unique opportunity for professors and students interested and involved in the legal field to see firsthand the system of justice through this experiential learning experience.

“Learning about the function of the justice system was an eye-opening and highly enjoyable experience. The courthouse itself was very beautiful and full of history and symbolism and the tour provided by the Discovering Justice staff was even more impressive. I recommend this experience to all students, particularly college students who may be interested in working in the justice system. It opens your eyes to so many opportunities.” Cameron Howard, Emmanuel College, Class of 2025, a College Student Court Visitor.

“My favorite part of our tour was seeing the inside of a courtroom. Sitting in the room where justice happens, and learning about the justice system, was a unique and very cool experience.” Annabelle Sarojak, Emmanuel College, Class of 2025, a College Student Court Visitor.

The Moakley Courthouse is open to all colleges and universities (including law schools) interested in this invaluable educational experience. For more information, reach out to Courthouse Programs Associate Kiara Batista at kbatista@discoveringjustice.org. To book a visit, fill out this Court Visit Request Form.

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New Third Grade Curriculum on Justice and Native People to be Released this Fall

The Children Discovering Justice curriculum will expand to Grade Three this year with new modules ready to be released next month for the 2023-24 school year.

With the updated curriculum, Third Grade teachers across the Commonwealth will focus on justice and Native peoples, consistent with the Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework. With lessons on tribal sovereignty, impacts of erasure on Native peoples, and through case studies of present-day advocacy, students will explore the hard history of this country and the reclamation that many are advocating for today.

Discovering Justice has partnered with Native speakers across Massachusetts and a speaker from the Association on American Indian Affairs to show young learners through video interviews how Native peoples continue to be justice advocates.

“As a Native woman and an educator myself, I hope that 3rd Graders who experience this curriculum will have a healthier, more just, and balanced experience than I would have had in American public schools at their age, and that they will hear it from the direct, varied, and rich perspectives of Native folks themselves. I hope most centrally that students and their teachers walk away with an unequivocal understanding that WE ARE STILL HERE, the curiosity to learn more about Indigenous justice issues, and the agency to use their own voices to lift ours and advocate for a better future for us all,” states Katie Henries, school leader and Nipmuc/k Indian.

Preview a video from one of our guest speakers, Colleen Medicine, a representative of the Association on American Indian Affairs, discussing Native contributions and advocacy for change. These videos are a foundational component of this Massachusetts History & Social Science standard-aligned curriculum.

Discovering Justice has already contracted with a dozen schools and districts to provide professional development this coming school year that prepares educators to discuss complex issues with young learners. Educators will explore the tools and resources available in the curriculum as well as best practices for leading civil discourse in the classroom.

Contact Education Program Director lbrenner@discoveringjustice.org to bring K-3 civics professional development to your district.

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