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29 June, 2010

Young people and lawyers celebrate successful partnerships

On 22 June 2010 young people and legal organisations from the Citizenship Foundation’s Lawyers in Schools programme gathered in London to celebrate the success of the scheme.

The event at Olswang's offices, a participating law firm, welcomed students, legal professionals, teachers and MPs to the celebration event and launch of this year's Lawyers in Schools evaluation report. The report demonstrates the positive impact of the partnership on young people, businesses and the community. The Attorney General, the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP, closed the event saying that Lawyers in Schools ‘helps [students] to develop a legal capability by improving the skills needed to anticipate and avoid problems'.

Students from Mulberry School for Girls with the Attorney General

The report for the 2009/10 academic year highlighted the benefits of the programme including improved relationship with the community (93 per cent), understanding of issues that affect young people (72 per cent) and staff development (71 per cent). Linda Zell, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Olswang commented, ‘Lawyers in Schools is a great scheme for the professional development of our volunteers and is a rewarding addition to our CR programme.'

Lawyers in Schools has been designed to support Public Legal Education and, through its interactive and engaging sessions, it aims to raise awareness among young people of the law and its processes. Robert Heslett, President of the Law Society said in his speech, ‘It's so important to imbue in youngsters an understanding of what the rule of law means and how it carries through to their own rights and obligations...[Lawyers in Schools is a] leading, proven and established example of Public Legal Education.'

Secondary to the programme's main aim of raising awareness and understanding of the law, is the fact that the programme raises young people's aspirations and helps to open up access to the legal profession. By interacting with legal professionals, engaging in stimulating debates and having to think critically about legal situations that affect them, young people develop their employability skills. The report shows that over 70 per cent of teachers noted an increase in students' speaking and critical thinking skills, which are valuable skills for legal capability.

Teachers also reported that students' aspirations had been raised (63 per cent) as a result of the programme. Pierce Boyle, a student from Haverstock School who gave a speech at the event, commented, ‘the experience of working with real lawyers was an eye-opener and made the possibility of a career in law seem more real and achievable.'

For more information about the scheme, please visit www.lawyersinschools.org.uk or contact Ruth Cohen on 020 7566 5038.


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