People's Law School educates more than 450

For over 32 years the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ) has sponsored more than 450 of its MAJ People's Law Schools across the state, educating tens of thousands of Michigan citizens about their legal rights and responsibilities.

This fall MAJ sponsored two large People's Law School programs, one in Lansing and another in Marquette.

The Lansing event, co-sponsored by Thomas Cooley Law School and Sinas Dramis Law Firm attracted more than 330 students for the 7-week course. Sessions were offered Wednesday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. starting on Sept. 15, at the Thomas Cooley Law School 6th Floor Auditorium at 217 South Capitol in Lansing. There was a nominal fee of $20 for the entire seven-week session to cover books and materials. Instructors volunteered their time and Thomas Cooley Law School donated their facilities.

In Marquette, the MAJ People's Law School was co-sponsored by the Northern Michigan University Department of Political Science and Public Administration, the NMU Student Law Forum, and the Pence and Numinen law firm. This second annual Marquette PLS attracted more than 125 students.

According to Lansing attorney James Hofer of the Sinas Dramis Law Firm who chairs the MAJ People's Law School Committee, "People are fascinated by the law and often a bit of afraid of it. Our goal is to try to open the curtain a bit so people can understand and appreciate their rights and how the law works.

"It is especially critical during these tough economic times for people to at least know some basics about the law," Hofer observed. "While there is no substitute for hiring an attorney when you face a difficult legal situation, often just knowing how the law works and how to avoid problems is all you need."

Past People's Law School instructors include Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh, other judges and elected officials, law professors, and attorneys who specialize in the appropriate areas of law. People's Law School students who attend a minimum number of classes were be presented with a People's Law School completion certificate. However attendees could chose to come to only selected classes if they prefer.

According to Hofer, The People's Law School program is so popular that the classes fill weeks before the session begins and each year people must be turned away at the door. "We have people who come every year because we update the topics and the law is always changing," Hofer noted. "The People's Law School attracts elected officials, small businesspeople, retirees, students, and people from all walks of life. Some even discover an interest in earning a law degree."

MAJ's People's Law School has proven so successful that, with MAJ's approval and encouragement, the model has been exported to more than 15 other states.

Published: Fri, Nov 19, 2010