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When declaring Law Day, President Eisenhower is quoted as saying, “If civilization is to survive, it must choose the rule of law.” Show some support and care for the freedom and civility that is provided under the rule of law by celebrating Law Day! 

History of Law Day

The movement toward the founding of Law Day can be traced back to the early 1950s, thanks to Hicks Epton, an attorney from Wewoka, Oklahoma who launched the Know Your Liberties – Know Your Courts Week through the Oklahoma Bar Association. This event that took place in late April was an important public education campaign that even earned two Freedom Foundation awards and pre-dated the establishment of Law Day.

The first Law Day in the United States was suggested in 1957 by the American Bar Association. The idea may be attributed to Charles S. Rhyne, who had been then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower’s legal counsel for a time and who also served as the president of the American Bar Association from 1957-1958. The following year, in 1958, Law Day was declared by President Eisenhower with the purpose of stating the dedication and intention of the principles of government under law.

By 1961, the US Congress had gotten on board with the event and showed support for May 1 as the official Law Day. Since that time, the idea for the day has grown and evolved as a visible part of legal culture, celebrated by many individuals and organizations in the US and also spreading to other nations throughout the globe.

Though not a government holiday in the US, this day is celebrated throughout many different organizations and offices, while different years come with different themes to provide a focus for the event. Past themes for Law Day have included:

  • Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility and Collaboration (2023)
  • Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change (2022)
  • Advancing the Rule of Law Now (2020)
  • Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society (2019)

How to Celebrate Law Day

Show some appreciation for the way the law keeps society running by observing Law Day with these and other ideas:

Attend a Local Law Day Event

Get on board with Law Day by connecting with others who are interested in the topic through events and activities. This might mean attending an open lecture at a local university law school or joining in with a seminar or online webinar. Those who are part of the American Bar Association may check to see if their local chapter is hosting any events they can get connected to. This is also a great time to network and build relationships within the law community.

Apply for a Law Day Award

Those who are committed to upholding the law can apply for an award given in honor of Law Day. Individuals, organizations and legal professionals can be recognized for their outstanding efforts by several different organizations, including the American Bar Association. This is a great way to highlight achievements and dedication to the law community, elevating a person’s professional standing while also inspiring others to be pursuers of excellence! 

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