State Bar Association and New Jersey Judiciary kick off civics education project

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For Immediate Release

Kate Coscarelli
Sr. Director, Communications

NEW BRUNSWICK: The New Jersey State Bar Association and New Jersey Judiciary announced a partnership to foster a better public understanding of civics and the essential role the courts play in a vibrant democracy.

The program is called the Benchmarks Civics Project. The project aims to inform the public about the way the courts work; what it means to be a citizen; and the importance of an independent, fair and impartial justice system.

“It is easy for any of us to take those issues for granted. But these are fundamental issues and it is essential to our mission to ensure the public fully understands the importance of these values,” said NJSBA President Kevin P. McCann.  

This partnership marks yet another way New Jersey’s Judiciary and state bar association are on the cutting edge. New Jersey is one of only a handful of other states, including Florida, New Hampshire and Colorado, to start such a program. The New Jersey program is indebted to the Florida Bar Association, which provided valuable support, training materials and lesson plans.

“Our system of government depends on an educated and informed citizenry to protect the rule of law,” said Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “The Benchmarks Civics Project is a unique opportunity for attorneys to reach out to their communities to present a refresher course on government and, in particular, our legal system.”

Through the project, lawyers will receive professionalism continuing legal education credits (CLE) when they attend a training session about speaking on civics issues to community groups. Nearly 60 judges and attorneys were trained at the inaugural session at the NJSBA Annual Meeting and Convention held last week in Atlantic City. Additional training opportunities will be offered through the State Bar Association in the coming months.

Once trained, attorneys who go out and speak with those groups can earn additional professionalism CLE credits.

“This program presents a special opportunity for all of us to get more involved in our communities and foster a better understanding of the important role lawyers and the court system play in our society,” said McCann.