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Bar President's Message

Richard D'Addario, Esq., President, Rhode Island Bar Association

Law Day 

Lynda L. Laing, Esq.
President, Rhode Island Bar Association

“The Law Day program provides the opportunity to help students better understand the legal system and encourages them to consider a future in the legal profession.”

Law Day is approaching! This year, Rhode Island Law Day is scheduled on Friday, May 6, 2022. President Dwight Eisenhower first established Law Day in 1958 to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law and it’s celebrated annually on or around May 1st. The American Bar Association (ABA) promotes the extension of Law Day into middle and high school classrooms to honor the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession. Rhode Island Law Day classroom program lessons are open to all public, independent, private, and parochial Rhode Island middle and upper schools’ 7th to 12th grade classes, and feature in-school, one classroom period participation of a Rhode Island judge and lawyer team. This year’s topic, set by the ABA, is Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change.
I have participated in Law Day in the past and find it to be a very rewarding experience. The program provides an opportunity to give back to the community by sharing our experiences and expertise with the students, who always come prepared with great questions proving just how much the legal system impacts their lives. I hope you will consider participating in this year’s Law Day program!
This year’s theme reminds the public that the Constitution is “neither perfect, nor exhaustive, as our nation’s history makes clear. Legislation, court rulings, amendments, lawyers, and ‘we the people’ have built upon those original words across generations to attempt to make the ‘more perfect union more real.” The topic will explore the many facets of the Constitution, a document that not only outlines a blueprint for government, but also delegates power, articulates rights, and offers mechanisms for change.
Each year the ABA and our state Law Day Committee, chaired by Justice Indeglia, develop educational materials for the Bar and the Judiciary to use during their classroom programs along with a PowerPoint presentation. When speaking to the students, you can connect with them and hear their concerns about the legal system. The Law Day program provides the opportunity to help students better understand the legal system and encourages them to consider a future in the legal profession. Don’t be afraid to volunteer to participate if you have never done so in the past. The Law Day Committee will pair you with a member of the Judiciary, and as a team, you will work to prepare your presentation. Experienced Law Day volunteers are always available to help you prepare if you need extra assistance.
In an effort to be more inclusive, this year the RI Law Day Committee tried expanding its scope and reached out to schools who have programs for students with disabilities inviting them to participate in the program. The committee also sent a special communication from me, as president, to schools who have not participated in the past, urging them to do so this year to increase participation.
The RIBA also co-sponsors the Francis J. Darigan, Jr. Law Day Essay Contest. The contest is open to all 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students in Rhode Island. The winning essay author receives a $1,000 scholastic award and a trophy. The winner’s school receives a permanent plaque and the annual Law Day Essay Award Trophy to display until the next Contest. The second-place essay author will also be recognized with a $250 scholastic award. All essay entries must be received by May 16, 2022. Please help us encourage participation in this contest.
The Rhode Island Law Day program receives the most participation from our membership, but it is not the only Law Related Education (LRE) program the RIBA offers. The Speakers Bureau and Lawyers in the Classroom programs offer speaking engagements on a variety of topics throughout the year to schools and other adult organizations. In a response to requests, the Bar Association contacts appropriate Bar volunteers, based on their geographic location (proximity to attorney’s home and/or law office) and noted areas of law to determine the volunteer’s interest and availability. Bar members can volunteer to speak on topics such as business law, criminal law, family law, elder law, constitutional law, and more. Our Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion recommended expanding the topics to include Title VII, equal opportunity, and affirmative action which we have recently included in our attorney volunteer sign-up forms. These Law Related Education programs are a resource for schools and organizations interested in learning about a particular area of the law. The vitality and success of these programs depends on our valued Bar member volunteers. The RIBA hopes the LRE programs inspire others to become attorneys and help better educate the public about the legal system.
While programs, such as Law Day, help to inspire students to pursue a career in the law, the pipeline continues through higher and specialized education. Thanks to our generous donors, the Rhode Island Bar Foundation is able to offer four law school scholarships annually, including two for candidates who identify as black, indigenous, or people of color. The objective of the Bar Foundation’s Scholarship Program is to support high legal practice standards in our state by providing financial assistance to Rhode Island residents who show promise that they are likely to become outstanding lawyers and who will, hopefully, remain in our state to practice.
Please consider volunteering to help support our early education pipeline and community-based programs. To become an LRE volunteer, please visit the Bar’s website under the For Attorneys section and click on the Law Related Education page. There you will find a link to the Attorney LRE Volunteer Application. If you have any questions regarding the Bar’s LRE programs please contact Erin Cute, Director of Communications, by phone 401-421-5740 or by email at By volunteering, you can participate in the rewarding experience of educating Rhode Island students and adults on various areas of the law. We hope that the LRE programs improve the public perception of the practice of law and give them an understanding of the law, the legal process, and the legal system.
The Bar Journal assumes no responsibility for opinions, statements, and facts in any article, editorial, column, or book review, except to the extent that, by publication, the subject matter merits attention. Neither the opinions expressed in any article, editorial, column, or book review nor their content represent the official view of the Rhode Island Bar Association or the views of its members.