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 in 2022.
Elizabeth Hill was the winner of the ‘Outstanding individual contribution to Open Justice’, with Daniel Mander and Rachel Moses as runners-up. In this year’s awards we also presented a special award to Iain Service for his work on the Criminal Justice Clinic.
Elizabeth took part in the Open Justice Law Clinic where students 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.
Tutor Arj Arul who nominated Elizabeth for the award said:
Elizabeth showed a commendable commitment to her studies this year. It was clear from the outset of the work in the Open Justice Clinic that she would put her heart and soul into each case.
Elizabeth was a key member of her group, often acting in a lead role, and stepping up to every challenge posed. The cases presented were complex however the group took this in their stride and Elizabeth in particular would always get ‘stuck in’ no matter the difficulties.
Elizabeth showed great professionalism and resilience in managing some personal difficulties experienced part way through the module. Elizabeth has been a pleasure to work with this year and demonstrated all the qualities of a legal professional and team player.Arj Arul
I felt ecstatic when I won! It was a difficult year for me personally and academically, so to receive recognition in this manner was very gratifying. It was such a privilege to be involved in the Open Justice Clinic and I received incredible support from the other group members, my tutors and the solicitors and specialists involved.Elizabeth Hill
Daniel took part in the Criminal Appeals project where students working in small groups under the supervision of a solicitor, assist in the process of advising clients on the prospects of appealing their case to the Criminal Case Review Commission. Daniel helped put together a report about the impact of Covid on the mentally ill before working in a larger group with the Freedom law Clinic.
He was nominated by his tutor Avril Martin for:
Showing leadership skills throughout both projects, Daniel was always proactive and showed excellent skills at communication and collaboration. His contribution to facilitating both reports was outstanding. Daniel was also praised by members of the team for his hard work and effective liaison with them.Avril Martin
Daniel praised the experience saying:
It was brilliantly supported by the supervising tutors who were all infectiously enthusiastic, and the group of fellow students were equally committed and a pleasure to work with. It was without doubt the highlight of the entire degree. The project gave me the reassurance that I am capable of working in criminal defence after much experience in prosecution and that this is the path I want to go down for my future career.
I was very surprised (at the award) as I had no idea that I had even been nominated. It is very kind that the effort and time I put into the module was recognised and appreciated. The Open Justice centre really is a fantastic part of the law degree at the OU and I recommend any law student to get involved when they can.Daniel Mander
Rachel took part in the International Law Project where students undertake a piece of practical legal work with an international focus. The project Rachel worked on was to provide legal advice to the charity, Global Witness (GW), compiling a report on the rules of disclosure and privilege in New Zealand.
Rachel undertook this work substantially on her own, despite the academic side of the project being challenging both intellectually and legally since this work required starting from scratch; there were no styles or previous research to work from.
Rachel used her personal and academic ability along with fortitude and determination to complete what was by any standards and especially as an undergraduate student an outstanding piece of work described by Global Witness as “impressive.” Rachel’s academic research and written ability did not stop there. She led her team by arranging/hosting all small group meetings, drafting an outline of the report.
Rachel is one of the most impressive hardworking students I have encountered on W360 Justice in Action. Her research, teamworking, and personal attributes allowed her to make a significant and successful contribution to the OU’s Open Justice International Law project.Gillian Mawdsley
Iain received a ‘special award’ this year for his work assisting the administration and delivery of the newly formed Open Justice Centre Criminal Justice Clinic. Iain acted as the ‘big brother’ to groups of students who had volunteered to be involved, supporting them using the online case management system and contributing to the training and weekly supervision sessions
Iain took on the challenge whole-heartedly and was nominated by project lead Emma Curryer for his excellent collaboration efforts and his work in gathering the team to produce reports.
Emma said he was:
Diplomatic, brilliant at dealing with problems and consistently proactive.Emma Curryer, Criminal Justice Project Lead
Iain is staying on with the Open Justice Centre in a voluntary capacity and said:
I plan to focus on continuing pro bono legal work with the OU. I am delighted to be continuing my support for CJC students going forward. I was both surprised and delighted to win! To be recognised for providing an outstanding contribution for something you enjoy doing is humbling. Working with the Open Justice Centre has been the most fulfilling part of my studies. The support provided by Francine Ryan and her team – especially those in the background – and advice provided by outside solicitors has been outstanding.Iain Service
The ‘Outstanding team contribution to Open Justice’ saw a group of seven win in this year’s awards for their work in the Policy Clinic. 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.
These students worked alongside students from Northumbria University on a brief provided by the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) to determine the issues and/or reluctance of private landlords when renting their property to tenants with cats and/or dogs. The scope of this brief ended up being very large and led to substantially more work than the other projects in the policy clinic. The report that they produced at the end of the project was of extremely high quality and runs to over 100 pages.
Tutor Debbie Legge, who supervised their work said .
They produced an impressive report which will help to inform law and policy in this area. They were a massive credit to themselves and the OU.
The students worked alongside Northumbria University students in an integrated way and established good working relationships, modelling for those students how to work effectively in an online environment. Rachel Dunn, who supervised the students from Northumbria University, commented very positively on how committed, impressive, and capable the Open University students were and the substantial contribution they made to the project.Debbie Legge
The Open Justice policy clinic was such an important step towards my law career, I felt it really set me up for life outside of studying. The modules previous to this taught me the law and this year taught me to be a lawyer.
It took me out of my comfort zone on more than a few occasions but all for the better and learning to work as part of a team was a really important part of the course. I thoroughly enjoyed the module and would recommend it in a heartbeat. Thanks for the memories!!Paul Sutton
My time working with the policy clinic has been a unique experience for me because of working as part of a team that required all members to work hard together, communicate well together and compromise with beliefs we may have held before, about the policy area we were looking at. The guidance from our tutors from the Open University was amazing as they kept us all united in our aims for the policy clinic and meet the objectives we were given. It has been a privilege working with my fellow students in this project.Iain MacRae