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Open Justice Awards 2021

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Each year, The Open Justice Centre celebrates the exceptional achievements of our high calibre students.

Prizes were awarded by the Open Justice Centre to commend their highest achieving students.

Outstanding individual contribution to Open Justice | Danielle Rees and Rachel Innes

Danielle Rees – Individual winner

Danielle took part in the Mediation project where students are given the chance to undertake training in civil and commercial mediation. They get to experience how mediation skills, typically used in a face-to-face context, can be adapted to enable mediation in an online context. They then have the opportunity to apply the skills they have developed as mediators in a mock online mediation.

This project provides students with valuable negotiation skills which can be applied in many aspects of life. 

Danielle’s tutor Andrew Maxfield nominated her for this award.

Danielle adopted a professional approach throughout the project.  She was supportive and encouraging of her team members and demonstrated a positive, solution focused approach to all the challenges and opportunities of the project.

Andrew Maxfield
Picture of Danielle Rees

The Open Justice activities have not only provided a diversity of work experience available to me as a student living in a remote location.  But the opportunity at a critical juncture in my legal journey to reflect on why as a mature student I was undertaking this difficult and expensive path.  Experienced and supportive tutors in an inclusive and accessible programme allowed me to realign my motivations.  The experience will always provide me with a point of reference to ensure my practice reflects my passion for greater access to social justice.

Danielle Rees

Rachel Innes – Individual winner runner up

Rachel took part in the Open Justice Law Clinic project. Students in the Open Justice Law Clinic give free legal advice to members of the public under the supervision of qualified solicitors.

Students are allocated to a firm of students and work on cases in teams, building and maintaining valuable working relationships with their colleagues.

Students working in the clinic are subject to the same standards and professional obligations required of all solicitors so hard work and effort is required to succeed.

Rachel was nominated by her tutor Lizzie Fusco for this award. You can read Rachel’s blog here.

Rachel demonstrated outstanding leadership in steering her team through the OJ law clinic, keeping them motivated and on track in their casework.

Lizzie Fusco
Picture of Rachel Innes

I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity to undertake pro-bono with the clinic, it truly has shaped my journey to become a lawyer. The work that the Open Justice Law Clinic undertakes both for student experience and access to justice is truly fantastic and will forever stay in my heart. As a result of my student blog being published, I was offered some legal blog work and just had my first one accepted and purchased from me (on the new no-fault divorce law).

Rachel Innes

Outstanding team contribution to Open Justice | Jack Burton, Phillipe Morales

The team award this year went to two students who worked on the Policy Clinic project.  In the Policy Clinic students work as a team on a brief related to one public policy area which is either the subject of consultation by government or is an area of the law where reform has been suggested.

Jack and Phillipe collaborated on research into the cost of civil weddings in order to inform the Law Commissions’ ‘Wedding’ project, which will propose reform of the law which regulates how people can get married in England and Wales. Their joint research report ‘The cost of civil marriage ceremonies in England and Wales at non-religious approved venues’ contained information about the current costs charged by Local Authority’s across England and Wales and analysis of the possible causes of these costs.

They found no cause for the widely differing costs charged by Local Authorities and made a number of recommendations focused on ensuring less variation in the costs of civil weddings and the need for local authorities to be more transparent about their costs.

Their report has been published on The Open University’s online research pages and is available to download.

They were nominated for an award by their tutor Laura Platts.

Jack and Phillipe developed a strong working relationship and I would like to nominate them jointly for an Open Justice award due to the quality of their research, analysis and final report and the extra work which they put in when they lost a member of their group.

Laura Platts

The quality of the report produced by Jack and Phillipe was excellent and of the highest standard. Their report was sent to the Law Commission as part of their consultation into the law on weddings, and the Law Commission requested it was published and made openly available.  We are therefore expecting the Law Commission to reference the report as part of their recommendations for reform, which demonstrates the quality and thoroughness of their work.

Liz Hardie
Project Manager
Picture of Jack Burton

I would just like to say thank you for allowing me to study W360, the experience was one of the highlights of my entire time at The Open University and was easily one of the most enjoyable modules I studied.

Jack Burton

Runners up for outstanding team contribution to Open Justice | Megan Stretton, Christina Beadle, Claire McIntyre, Lisa Gamble, Megan Connors, Ibtisam Abdulaziz Mohamed, Grace Emmanuel, Emma Jane Marshall

The runners up this year comprise of two teams who worked on the Policy Clinic project that we ran in conjunction with our partner, the Environmental Law Foundation. A member of the team Claire McIntyre wrote a blog about working on the project for the Law Society of Scotland which you can read here.

They were nominated by their tutor Gillian Mawdsley.

This was a project which showcased the Open University and pro bono work as the students were working in conjunction with other universities. The project brief was demanding. It covered climate change which is going to be an essential area of law for all going forward.  The teams brought energy, dedication, intelligence, and commitment to the project. They gelled effectively with a strong work ethos helping the members of the team who found the commitment more challenging. Without such a supportive role being undertaken by each of them to each other, they would not have been able to come together and to submit an interim report which was assessed of being a high standard.  This required impressive research skills as well as managing and digesting a considerable volume of unfamiliar information- similar to the skills required from legal professional. With their diverse range of time commitments and experience, the fact that this was achieved was credit to the hardworking nature of the team members.

Gillian Mawdsley
Picture of Christina Beadle

My experience on the Open Justice project opened my eyes to other areas of law that I can make valuable contributions to. I thoroughly enjoyed working on my assigned project and understanding how my group’s contributions were used to facilitate a change.

Christina Beadle
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