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One of the bar’s best products

By Sheldon Sloan
President, State Bar of California

Sheldon Sloan

As president of the State Bar, it is a privilege for me this month to highlight the revised public education guide, Kids & the Law: An A-to-Z Guide for Parents. With this new edition of our most popular consumer information piece, we will distribute more than a million copies over the next year, starting this month at the California State Parent-Teacher Association convention in Sacramento. Your own personal copy is included in this newspaper.

The cornerstone of the State Bar’s public education program, Kids & the Law was first developed in the mid-1990s and, starting in 2001, was transformed into the easy-to-print and easy-to-distribute tabloid format that exists today. With the aid of the California Bar Foundation, which provides a dedicated grant each year to the State Bar’s public education program, we have to date delivered more than 2 million copies of Kids & the Law to schools, organizations, associations and individuals throughout the state. Countless individuals also have viewed and downloaded Kids & the Law from the State Bar’s Web site.

This year the Bar Foundation provided $65,000 to help defray the printing costs of the revised publication, as well as an additional $25,000 to pay shipping costs for schools and another $15,000 for the bar to organize a new Kids & the Law essay contest for fourth- and fifth-graders. Nearly 700 entries were received from school children all across the state, and the State Bar’s Board of Governors will honor the winners later this month at a special celebration during the May 11 board meeting in San Francisco.

Last published in May 2004, Kids covers many areas of the law for youngsters, from how to obtain a driver’s license to today’s designer drugs and how to avoid becoming a victim of Internet predators. It also provides parents with an excellent resource to brush up on the laws governing their children and answers questions about subjects like curfews, alcohol use, police searches, guns and privacy.

Kids & the Law is considered the first in the State Bar’s three-part series of excellent education guides. The second is When You Become 18: A Survival Guide for Teenagers, which will be updated and re-released in May 2008, and rounding out the series is Seniors & the Law: A Guide for Maturing Californians, which is scheduled for revision for May 2009. All together, the State Bar has distributed more than 6 million copies of the three guides since the Foundation began providing support for the project in 2001. To complement the education guides, the State Bar also produces more than 20 consumer self-help pamphlets, with topics ranging from small claims court, arrest and debt to divorce, wills and estate planning. All of the State Bar’s consumer information materials can be accessed on the bar’s Web site at

My hope is that lawyers who are parents and are receiving Kids & the Law in this Bar Journal will share this vital information with their kids, their grandchildren and all the young people in their lives. One of our best methods of getting the word out has always been the lawyers who take their copy to their children’s schools so that teachers who may not know about Kids & the Law actually see it. Better yet, many of our members over the past few years have ordered thousands of copies to be shipped to their children’s schools.

Kids, like When You Become 18 and Seniors & the Law, is always free. We do not charge for shipping. Our goal is not to re-coup costs, but to make sure that these vital guides get in the hands of the people who need the information. That is the mission of the State Bar’s public education program: to help the nearly 40 million Californians understand the legal rights and responsibilities of every member of their family.

To order Kids & the Law for free, in bulk or just an individual copy, send your request to: Please include your name and complete mailing address and the number of copies you are requesting.

If you take a look at the copy in this newspaper, I think you’ll readily see why this is one of the best and most important things the State Bar produces. Please make sure you share it with others in your life.

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