R. Michael Smith has teamed with Michael Pace, a former President of the Virginia State Bar Association and currently General Counsel for Roanoke College, and with Timothy Isaacs, professional educator, to assist Maryland middle and high schools implement a rule of curriculum. Mike Smith met that dynamic duo at an international rule of law conference in Barcelona sponsored by the World Justice Project which was the brain child of Bill Neukom, former General Counsel for Microsoft and President of the American Bar Association.
With funding from the Virginia Bar Foundation, Mike Pace and Tim Isaacs developed that curriculum which emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach and provides instructional modules and reading lists for teachers to adapt for their classes. Members of the bar also participate in the program by making presentations to students about the role of attorneys in protecting and advancing the rule of law in the U.S. That rule of law program has already been or is in the process of being implemented by school systems in Virginia, Florida, Washington, and other states.
Mike Smith has become passionate about the rule of law, in part, as the result of the legal work he has done in Afghanistan since 2003. That experience taught him that the rule of law is essential to protecting individual freedom, while stabilizing and developing the political and economic situation in emerging nations. He also learned that most people, including attorneys, do not really understand what the rule of law means.
For those reasons, Mike Smith has introduced his two colleagues and made presentations to teachers and school administrators in Howard County, Maryland who are enthusiastic about introducing the curriculum and he is arranging to do the same at public and private schools in other counties. Mike Smith has also enlisted representatives of the Maryland State Bar Association and judiciary, such as Judge Pamila Brown of the Howard County District Court and Monisse Brown of the Maryland Center for Professionalism, in the planning of this campaign. Hopefully, the time will soon come that students will learn about the importance of the rule of law in the history of this nation and in their everyday lives.