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Same course, but different now.

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Martyn Fryer, former 'Justice in action' student and now Criminal Justice Clinic case worker writes about his experiences both as a student and supporting students.

In my final year of study with the OU I enrolled with the Criminal Justice Clinic (CJC)  as part of the W360 module, undertaking work towards assessing any merit in an appeal against either sentence or conviction of a client in a “live” case. This involved working collaboratively within a group of students overseen by a lead Solicitor and a tutor (also a lawyer).

As students this module, and particularly the CJC allowed us to gain valuable experience in team-work, people management, research, criminal law – particularly around appeals, forming opinion, and writing advice. All of which are particularly valuable to those seeking a career within the justice system.

Personally, although my interest in Law was keen, as a 60+ year old I had no interest in working in a solicitors office with a group of ‘keen-ambitious-young things’ with sharp elbows vying for a place on the next step on the ladder of promotion, so I had always an unanswered query in  my mind as to what on earth I was going to do, not only with the experience of the CJC, but more broadly with a Law degree.

Imagine then my surprise and, to be honest, astonishment when towards the end of my studies I was approached my course solicitor, and my tutor with a view to me returning the following year as a case worker within the CJC, researching new appeals and mentoring students.

The live cases are similar, the course remains familiar, not much has changed, yet, everything has changed. A tsunami of ‘responsibility’ has washed over me – yes, to the client as last year, but now also to the students who I really want to experience, as I did, the challenge, privilege, and satisfaction gained from the participation on a live case. These feelings remain strongly familiar this year, though transferred from the case to the challenge, privilege and satisfaction gained from pointing a student in the right direction – not much has changed, but everything has changed.

There is still, not so much a tsunami more like, a small brook of ‘imposter-syndrome’ that trickles over me occasionally as I sit at my desk answering queries and assisting the students, their solicitor, and their tutor on the very same course that last year I was trying to surmount the very same problems of TMAs, deadlines and life pressures.

I owe the OU an enormous amount, not just for a qualification (my first since 1976) but also for allowing me the opportunity, to challenge myself, not only to dream, but to realise a dream – and then go further still …….

Did I mention, I’ve applied for a job in a Solicitors office?  Not much has changed, yet everything has changed.

More to follow ………..

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