Maslon UPLIFT: Legal Institute for Teens
Maslon UPLIFT is a mock trial program serving 8th grade students who reflect the rich diversity of the Twin Cities. UPLIFT offers students engaging opportunities to learn from volunteer attorneys about the legal profession, criminal justice, and the court system. Participation in the program helps students build confidence, develop analytical and speaking skills, foster long term vision, and create a framework to pursue academic excellence in high school.
2017 - 2018: PROGRAM LAUNCH
The inaugural program launched as an after-school program at St. Louis Park Middle School during the 2017-2018 school year. St. Louis Park Middle School, with its strong commitment to racial equity and a diverse student body, was an ideal home for Maslon UPLIFT in its inaugural year. UPLIFT students had the opportunity to study the criminal justice system, from the investigation of crimes by police through possible sentencing by judges. They analyzed and dissected the components of a criminal trial, developing writing, reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical skills. On March 13, 2018, UPLIFT students presented criminal mock trials before actual Minnesota Judges in courtrooms at the University of Minnesota Law School. Read about the event. Selected images from the event are below.
2018 - 2019: PROGRAM EXPANSION
After a successful launch at St. Louis Park Middle School, the six-month program expanded to include Columbia Academy in Columbia Heights, Minnesota. On March 14, 2019, Columbia Maslon UPLIFT students presented criminal mock trials before Retired Court of Appeals Judge Edward Toussaint at Maslon. St. Louis Park UPLIFT students presented their criminal mock trials before Hennepin County District Court Judge Regina Chu and U.S. Magistrate Judge David Schultz on March 19, 2019, in courtrooms at the University of Minnesota Law School.
2019 - 2020: PROGRAM DOUBLES IN SIZE
On two dates in March 2020, the students of Maslon UPLIFT—diverse groups of seventh and eighth graders from Columbia Academy and St. Louis Park Middle School—presented criminal mock trials before actual Minnesota Judges, culminating their six-month legal institute experience. The number of students that participated in the 2019-2020 program doubled from last year, engaging more than 70 students across the schools. To date, 105 middle school students have completed the UPLIFT program.
Maslon UPLIFT is led by Catherine Ahlin-Halverson, a former partner who transitioned to the role of Public Interest Counsel in 2016 specifically to spearhead Maslon's mock trial program for local students and to serve as a mentor and leader across the firm’s pro bono efforts overall. The program is generously supported by volunteer judges and attorneys, including Maslon's Cooper Ashley, Mary Heath, Terry Newby, Julian Zebot, Marty Fallon, Evan Nelson, and Mike Sheran, who served as coaches during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school year. With more than 60 years dedicated to strengthening both the legal profession and the community, Maslon is proud to stand behind the mission and values of the UPLIFT program.
IN THE NEWS:
- March 24, 2020—Sun Sailor, "St. Louis Park Middle School students participate in mock trials."
- March 25, 2019—Minnesota Lawyer, "Bar Buzz: Teens uplifted through mock trials"
- March 15, 2018—Minnesota Lawyer, "Bar Buzz: UPLIFTed middle schoolers in trial"
- January 10, 2018—Minnesota Lawyer Features Maslon UPLIFT in an Article Titled, "Maslon mock trial program takes on education gap"
To learn more about volunteering or how to bring Maslon UPLIFT to your school or neighborhood, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.