President's Page: Getting Involved in the Youth Civics Initiative

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard for democracy, therefore, is education. —Franklin D. Roosevelt 

By RCBA President Kenya Bodden

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Judge Jessica Palmer Denig1 about the RCBA Youth Civics Initiative. This is an exciting initiative because it directly addresses our mission statement because it:  

  • Provides legal education to members and the public 
  • Enhances members’ personal lives 
  • Promotes professional excellence 
  • Works to improve the quality and accessibility to justice 
  • Promotes the ideals of the profession through service to the community.  
The Youth Civics Initiative provides great volunteer opportunities for members of our bar. Yeah, yeah, yeah, here I go again with the push for volunteering. But the Youth Civics Initiative is a great way to promote our profession and tend to our community. As we head into summer and prepare for the end of the bar year, consider becoming a volunteer for the RCBA Youth Civics Initiative during the coming school year. Civics education is essential to our lives locally and nationally. Youth civics education is essential for several reasons. 

Civics education encourages civic engagement

Youth civics education can encourage young people to become more involved in their communities and take an active role in civic life. By learning about government structures, political processes, and social issues, young people develop the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in the democratic process. and make informed decisions about their future.  

Civics education fosters critical thinking skills

Having prior knowledge of the democratic process helps young people think critically and analyze complex issues. As they learn, they become more discerning consumers of media and better equipped to evaluate the arguments of politicians and other leaders. 

Civics education promotes responsible citizenship

As young people learn about the importance of responsible citizenship, they are encouraged to take ownership of their role in society. By learning about citizens’ rights and responsibilities, young people develop a sense of civic duty and a commitment to working towards the common good.  

Civics education builds stronger communities

By fostering a sense of shared responsibility and encouraging young people to work together towards common goals, we can build stronger communities. Civics education can foster a culture of collaboration and civic mindedness that benefits our community in the long term. 

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. --Benjamin Franklin 

So why should you, as an attorney, participate in educating youth about our government, democratic processes, and their rights and responsibilities as citizens?  
Attorneys bring expertise and experience to the classroom and provide students with a deeper understanding of how the legal system works. We have first-hand knowledge about complex legal concepts and the role of the law in our society, and we can help students understand them. We also serve as positive role models for young people; seeing us in action could inspire them to pursue careers in law or other public services. We can demonstrate the importance of civic engagement and responsible citizenship, and bring a practical, real-world perspective to the classroom, making civics education more engaging and relevant to students.  
All of us have examples from our careers of how the law affects individuals and communities. We understand the legal system intimately and can show students how they can make a difference in their own communities. Attorneys volunteering to teach civics to youth provide valuable resources and expertise. We can help schools meet their curriculum goals and provide a valuable service to our community. Participating in youth civics education is a win-win for everyone involved.  
By providing our expertise and unique point of view in the legal system, we can help promote civic engagement and responsible citizenship among young people. We can support our schools and communities and share our expertise to make a positive difference in the lives of young people. Youth civics education is an essential component of a healthy democracy. By encouraging young people to become informed and engaged citizens, we ensure that our democratic institutions remain strong and vibrant for generations to come. 

Please reach out to Sabina Zeenat,, (651) 789-3752, to lend your support and time to help cultivate future generations of informed civic minded citizens who will practice civility, even during times of great divide and heated debates. We all benefit from this initiative. 


1 See Judge Palmer-Denig’s Barrister Article, “Inspiring and Educating Students with RCBA’s New Youth Civics Initiative,” January 4, 2023. 

Kenya Bodden, 2022-2023 Ramsey County Bar Association President, is a partner at Thompson Coe LLP, a 70 plus year old national complex litigation law firm with more than 200 attorneys. Kenya focuses his litigation practice in the areas of casualty, transportation, insurance defense, and products liability. He also serves as a board member of Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), a dedicated group of volunteers who raise funds to invest in innovative and integral health care programs at Children’s Minnesota.