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23 June, 2010

Young people and lawyers celebrate successful partnerships

On 22 June 2010 several young people 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 welcomed students, legal professionals and MPs and representatives from the Ministry of Justice 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’.

The report for the 2009/10 academic year was the first from Lawyers in Schools that used the London Benchmarking Group model, the international standard for measuring the impact of corporate responsibility (CR) on the community. The report 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. Michelle Haigh, a Trainee Solicitor for Addleshaw Goddard LLP who volunteered on the scheme this year commented, ‘...the most rewarding [element] was the ability to make students realise that options [for their future] were a real possibility for them.' 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 glowing 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.'

Media contact
Emma Doyle at the Citizenship Foundation, tel: 0207 566 4134 or email emma.doyle@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

Notes to Editors
About the Citizenship Foundation
The Citizenship Foundation is an independent education and participation charity (no 801360) that aims to encourage and enable individuals to engage in democratic society. Founded in 1989, our particular focus is on developing young people's citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding of the law, democracy and public life. We do this by championing civic participation, supporting teachers and schools with the delivery of citizenship education and by working with young people in community-settings on issues that concern them. www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

About Lawyers in Schools
Lawyers in Schools is an employee volunteering scheme developed by the Citizenship Foundation, in partnership with Linklaters. The scheme places practising and trainee lawyers in the classroom to work with young people to develop their awareness and understanding of the law.The programme currently partners 21 law firms and in-house legal departments with 24 schools across England. It was established in 1999 and has developed into an increasingly successful programme.

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The Citizenship Foundation registered charity no 801360.



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