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Bar News - October 19, 2007

Leapholes: A Magical Journey through the Law


Leapholes is the fascinating story of Ryan Coolidge, a boy who hates middle school and who is in the worst kind of trouble—trouble with the law. The one person who can help Ryan is a mysterious old, African-American lawyer named Hezekiah. Hezekiah may have magical powers, or he may have the most elaborate computerized law library ever conceived. Either way, together Ryan and Hezekiah do their legal research by zooming through “leapholes,” physically entering the law books, and coming face-to-face with actual people from some of our nation’s most famous cases—like Rosa Parks and Dred Scott—who will help Ryan defend himself in court.


Leapholes is time travel with a legal twist, where law books and important legal precedents come to life. Though in a work of fiction, all of the cases woven into the Leapholes storyline are actual and important cases from American legal history. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that slaves are property, not people, appears at Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857).


Packed with the pacing and suspense of a legal thriller, Leapholes is so historically accurate and conveys such a keen understanding of basic legal concepts that it gained the enthusiastic backing of the American Bar Association.


Leapholes includes a very special Afterword in which two dozen top lawyers and lawyer/authors—from David Baldacci to Dick Thornburgh—tell children in their own words what inspired them to become lawyers. Famous trial lawyer David Boies, for example, tells how he overcame dyslexia to become a skilled debater and renowned courtroom orator. The book also includes discussion questions for the classroom.                          


In 2007 the NH Bar Association invited several middle schools from around the state to participate in the “Leapholes” pilot project. 


The NHBA has provided the classes with books for each student and teacher. Most classes will begin the book in Jan. 2008, after the Christmas vacation.  The students will read the book and, with the help of a volunteer attorney, discuss the legal aspects. Each class will then participate in a culminating activity to be presented to volunteers from the Bar Association.


The potential of “Leapholes” as a program for helping middle school students achieve better reading, writing, research and debating skills will be evaluated following its pilot run. 


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