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Open Justice Awards 2020 team winners

Rawtenstall students and tutors

The ‘Outstanding team contribution to Open Justice’ saw a group of five win in this year’s awards, with the runners-up part of the Street Law project.

Winners: Rawtenstall pop-up law clinic project – Daniel Doody, Elizabeth Walker, Jack Brown, Kelly Louise Martin and Lilly May Seddon 

A group of students worked on a face-to-face pop-up law clinic in Rawtenstall in Lancashire, joining forces with the MP for Rossendale and Darwin, Jake Berry, Rawtenstall Unitarian Church, and University of Lancaster Law School, to offer legal advice to the community at the start of 2020. Other students assisted with the project online, however, this particular part of the group were nominated by project managers Francine Ryan and Liz Hardie who were impressed with how the students gave up their time, including taking time off work to attend Rawtenstall to interview clients for the clinic.

Francine, who is shown with Liz Hardie and students at Rawtenstall in January 2020, said: “We continue to be impressed with the support and dedication our students show to their communities. All the students who participated in this project volunteered alongside commitments to their studies, work and families. In addition, the group who travelled to Rawtenstall took holidays and unpaid leave; they worked tirelessly on each visit interviewing clients throughout the day. We were struck by the level of professionalism and confidence the students showed and this was reflected in the very positive feedback we received from clients.”

Elizabeth Walker

Team member Elizabeth Walker said: “This was truly a unique experience to apply the knowledge I have learnt during my studies with the OU, along with giving back to the community. It distilled that once I am qualified, I wish to practice in a social area of law relating to family and housing and aid in bridging the gap for those accessing justice.”

Another team member Daniel Doody added: “W360 Justice in Action was by far the module that knitted together all the work put in over the past years while studying. The pro bono project work in the pop-up law clinic not only provided great experience in the practical side of working in law but also allowed me to give something back to a community I grew up in.” 

Runners-up: Street Law project Lauren Shanahan-Smith and Natalie Healey

Lauren and Natalie worked together on the Street Law project, which is extracurricular and offered to Law students at all levels, which was unfortunately cut short earlier this year by the Covid-19 pandemic. Public legal education ‘Street Law’ workshops in secondary schools and community groups aim to promote a greater understanding of law and legal issues. Through the interactive workshops, audiences engage on legal issues of particular relevance to them through a range of activities.

Lauren, who is shown below with her award certificate, said: “Taking part in the Open Justice projects will help develop the kind of skills valued by future employers.”

Lauren Shanahan-Smith

They were nominated by the project manager Avril Martin who added: “I was very impressed with Lauren and Natalie during this project. Despite having their own school in Bournemouth to prepare workshops for, they came to the rescue for the Milton Keynes cadets despite the distance to travel at night-time and both worked hard to make this engaging and interactive. They also produced great work for Bournemouth who wanted several days covering some hard-hitting topics including consent for 14-year olds in an appropriate, informative and interactive way. Both sessions received very positive feedback.”

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