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Open Justice Awards 2023

Iain Service

Each year, The Open Justice Centre celebrates the exceptional achievements of our high calibre students. Our annual awards are given to individual students or groups of students that make outstanding contributions to the projects they are involved in. Students are nominated by their tutors or project managers. 

This year we renamed our individual winner award the ‘Iain Service Outstanding Individual Contribution’ award in tribute to Iain Service. Iain was at the core of our Criminal Justice Clinic and was a former ‘Justice in action’ student and law school alumni.  As a case worker he brought his unique expertise, skills and kindness to the administration and delivery of the Criminal Justice Clinic, and most importantly to the students he supported. Iain acted as a ‘big brother’ to groups of students, supporting them using the online case management system and contributing to the training and weekly supervision sessions.

Iain passed away earlier this year and is missed by the Open Justice Team and everyone who worked with him.

Outstanding individual contribution to Open Justice (Iain Service Award) | Kara Tobin, Olivia Ferguson

Kara Tobin was the winner of the ‘Iain Service Outstanding Individual Contribution’ award, with Olivia Ferguson as runner-up. 

Kara Tobin – Individual winner

Kara 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 Kara for the award said:

Kara had significant health issues during the module year yet consistently approached her studies with courage and determination. She displayed all the qualities of a great team player, supporting colleagues and getting stuck into the project. She embraced technology and self-development and exemplified professionalism in all her dealings with colleagues and clients alike.

Arj Arul

On winning the award Kara said:

I had an amazing time studying the module, met some amazing teammates and it was such a pleasure to work with them. I was stunned but absolutely delighted about the award and it felt really good to work alongside Lauren, Lauren, Tara and Edda which has boosted my confidence so much. I'm very, very grateful and it feels like I've been part of a module wide (and OU-wide) team in getting my degree. I'm about to start the Bar Course on Monday and that's terrifying and exciting all at once but I know I've got that extra spring in my step now thanks to my experiences at the OU. 

Kara Tobin

Olivia Ferguson – Individual winner runner up

Olivia took part in the Mediation project which gives students the chance to undertake training in civil and community mediation. They have the opportunity to understand how mediation skills, typically used in a face-to-face context, can be adapted to enable mediation in an online context. At the end of the project students apply the skills they have developed as a mediator in a mock online mediation. The project provides students with valuable negotiation skills which can be applied in many aspects of life.

Olivia was nominated by her tutor Hazel Clark who said:

Olivia was in a group of 3 for the mediation project and displayed a maturity well beyond her years in being a supportive team member to her colleagues. Her colleagues both experienced quite challenging family and health circumstances (one of them had a baby in the course of the presentation, for instance). Olivia managed moving to Cyprus in the course of the year. When the simulated mediation came round, as they were a team of three, one of the students had to do the mediation twice (which involved spending two long evenings mediating online). Olivia volunteered to take this on, because the colleague who had been nominated to do it was unable to do so. She did this without fuss notwithstanding the fact it increased her workload.

Hazel Clark 

Olivia praised the experience saying:

 It was such an incredible delight and a real highlight of my studies so far to participate in this module, let alone to go on to be recognised as a Open Justice Runner Up for outstanding contribution. Throughout this entire project my tutors, and team were supportive, enthusiastic and made learning a real joy. For myself alone, this module really aided in transforming my own personal perception of what it takes to be a legal profession in modern society and led me to once again believe I have what it takes. Thank you to all of the Open University Tutors, teachers and alumni for making higher education possible for all.

Olivia Ferguson

Outstanding team contribution to Open Justice | Jennie Ames, Oana Kloos, Alexandra Denham, Sophie Perks

The ‘Outstanding team contribution to Open Justice’ saw a group of four win in this year’s awards for their work on the mediation project.

Tutor Hazel Clark who supervised their work said .

I have nominated a group - they really were outstanding. They were supportive of one another, met weekly throughout the project and were hardworking and motivated - a complete pleasure to deal with. It was interesting to see how they dealt with a contentious issue which arose in the context of the simulated mediation - that of Covid vaccination status. One of the group had not been vaccinated as a matter of principle and another was clinically vulnerable and was particularly pro vaccine. They dealt with this difference brilliantly by seeking to understand each other's perspectives and then simply accepting them. They were the only group in the last two years we have been using Teams, who developed a system of screen-sharing a whiteboard too, which enhanced their mediation practice. I really hope that their collegiality could be recognised.

Hazel Clark
Project Manager
Picture of Oana Kloos
Group member Oana Kloos said:
Justice in action’ (W360) has offered me an amazing opportunity that I will forever be very grateful for. It would have not been possible without the guidance and understanding of the best tutor anyone could ever wish for, Hazel, and the support, dedication and encouragements from the most loving and caring team I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Winning this award was a most welcome bonus for which I am extremely thankful and participating in this project was such an eye opener for me, a beautiful experience, a boost of self-confidence as well as feeling as a part of a small but tight knitted family. The knowledge and skills I have gained while studying for the Open Justice project have laid the foundation for my path towards becoming the best version of myself
Oana Kloos

Outstanding team contribution to Open Justice runners up 

There were two runners up groups this year, one for the Open Justice Clinic and the other for the Criminal Justice Clinic group.

Outstanding team contribution to Open Justice runners up | (Open Justice Clinic): Edda Vallen, Lauren Urry, Tara Carter, Kara Tobin, Lauren Betsworth 

Tutor Arj Arul, who supervised their work said .

This team went above and beyond to support each other and their clients. They maintained professionalism and were highly motivated and well-coordinated. This was despite many events along the way including a twin pregnancy! The team displayed great resilience in ensuring the job was done at every moment..

Arj Arul
Project Manager
Picture of Tara Carter
Group member Tara Carter said:

Being a part of the Open Justice Clinic was an amazing and, at first, a daunting experience. Being placed with a team of strangers and having to work on projects involving legal topics I knew little about was a steep learning curve. However, I had the good fortune to be assigned to a fantastic team. We had an excellent tutor and solicitors involved who supported us as we processed the two very different cases on which we had to provide legal advice. I was heavily pregnant with twins when I began the project. They had arrived by the second case, and my teammates had dubbed them the "Clio twins" to honour the system we had been adhering to throughout.  When it was announced that I had won an award for my participation in the Open Justice Clinic, I was ecstatic and pleasantly surprised to have been nominated.

I now have a greater understanding of the value of pro bono work and where it fits with continuing my legal profession. This, along with the new courage to venture outside of my comfort zone, is all a result of this experience.
Being a member of the Open Justice Clinic and working with such an amazing group of people was an honour. I would heartily recommend the clinic to all legal students as an excellent component of the OU law degree. I am thankful for both the skills and the memories I now have

Tara Carter

Outstanding team contribution to Open Justice runners up | (Criminal Justice Clinic): Stephanie Basset, Sarah Dillon, Dawn Gale, Charles Gillan, Christopher Macklin, Emma Wiberg

Tutor Avril Martin who supervised their work said .

This group called themselves Beeline to Justice and worked cohesively together at all times. They were professional and polite in their communications with each other and others in the project. In small group meetings with the tutor, they took it in turns to do the agenda, Minutes and chair them making sure everyone contributed and developing their professional identity.   Highly motivated they collaborated strongly together to produce good work in the project. Of particular note was how understanding and supportive they were of each other when some faced tough times. I also understand that they were supportive and gave helpful kind advice to other teams who were facing struggles on how to work more effectively together.  This team were a pleasure as they were efficient, hardworking, and enjoyed sharing tasks and developing as a team.

Avril Martin
Project Manager
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