Angie Holland's connections to education start with her family. Both of her parents were teachers, and her father ultimately became the principal of the Washington, D.C., elementary school she and her brother attended. Holland herself taught for three years in St. Louis with Teach for America before starting law school. So she found Vanderbilt's fledgling Street Law Program, which began as an outreach program under the umbrella of Vanderbilt's Legal Aid Society in 2005, a natural fit.
Through Street Law, which originated at Georgetown in the early 1970s, law students deliver a set curriculum that covers what Holland, who directed Vanderbilt's Street Law program in 2007-08, describes as "legal basics everyone should know," including aspects of criminal law, housing law, aspects of employment law, family law and consumer law. "We start with the basic curriculum developed by the national Street Law program," Holland says, "and we adapt and update the lessons to reflect local laws."
Vanderbilt's Street Law Program was established in 2005 by two members of the Class of 2007, Lauren Lowe and Taylor Hammond. The organization offers classes at the Campus for Human Development, a mission that serves the homeless. Pairs of students teach courses on different topics each Monday night, after sharing dinner with the campus's clients. Over the past two years, Street Law volunteers have expanded the program to offer additional courses at the YWCA and Magdalene House focusing on domestic violence, family law and other issues affecting women. Last year, Holland established a program at Pearl Cohn High School in Nashville by adapting the Street Law curriculum to work in conjunction with the school's government class. Dean Sue Kay, who heads Vanderbilt's clinical programs and advises the Legal Aid Society, works with Street Law volunteers to adapt the curriculum.
Holland played an instrumental role in setting up the Pearl Cohn program, first choosing a school where "students can really benefit from the legal knowledge we provide," and then working with a government teacher to organize two weekly class sessions taught by law students through the Street Law program. "Students in the course were expected to take notes and prepare an oral argument dealing with a hypothetical about family law," she says. "Then they used their arguments in a Moot Court competition."
Finalists in the Moot Court competition made their presentations in April in the law school's Flynn Auditorium, before a group of judges assembled from the ranks of Street Law members. "Many of these students had never been to Vanderbilt or been inside a law school," she says. "It was really rewarding to hear some of them say, 'I think I'm interested in pursuing a career in law.'"