LegalWays: Your Right to an Attorney

Lesson Duration

By Jennifer Bloom and Sally Revak

From Unit 1 of LegalWays, a curriculum designed to teach a variety of legal topics of interest to young people. The right to an attorney is a very important right in the justice system.  It guarantees that the rules of the court are followed and constitutional rights protected.  However, the right to an attorney must be exercised to be effective.  Many youth waive this right because they do not understand it.  This lesson is designed to answer the most common questions concerning this right and to consider the issues surrounding waiver.  This lesson will benefit from the participation of a defense lawyer. The lesson includes a short reading, guided questions, a you be the judge activity, and a creative writing (brochure or powerpoint) activity.


Students will understand that there are different courts and that the courts handle different kinds of cases. (Lesson 1: Sources of Law and the Courts)

Students will know the basic functions and procedures of two courts that they might be involved in: juvenile court and conciliation court (Lesson 2: Juvenile Court and Lesson 4: Conciliation Court)

Students will know the importance of their right to an attorney and when the right is available to them. (Lesson 3: Your Right to an Attorney)

Time to Complete

Completion of all components will need 2 to 3 class sessions.

Materials Needed


See Legal System Teaching Guide under materials needed.


LegalWays was supported by Grant No. 95-JS-FX-0300 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.


Types of especially helpful comments: How you modified this for your class, How you would improve this lesson.

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