Open Justice is working to provide opportunities for OU law students and academics to engage with their communities through providing public legal education opportunities online, in schools, in prisons and in courts.
So far our students have delivered Streetlaw sessions to High School pupils on human rights, social media law, legal careers and are working with the Personal Support Unit to assist litigants in person in the civil courts and with Refugee Action to assist in the provision of immigration and asylum advice. Forthcoming projects include working with the St Giles trust to develop legal education opportunities for prisoners and ex-offenders.
If your organisation would be interested in working with Open Justice to provide public legal education opportunities on legal topics of importance to your community, please contact us.
Quotes from students and teachers who have been involved in our recent streetlaw and public legal education in prison activities.
My topic was knife crime, I knew children love to sing so I made up a song about knife crime and got the children to sing along, it was a great ice breaker, as it made the children more relaxed and friendly. My best advice is to be yourself, remember the children are just as nervous as you, also try not to use complicated words, speak to the children in their own language, show them that you understand the problems young people go through and get them involved by asking questions. Most of all relax and enjoy yourself, my goal was to stop a child from getting involved in knife crime. Hopefully I succeeded.
The presentations all went really well and the students coped well with a lively audience! The subjects were all relevant and pitched correctly. Huge thanks to them for coming in and for delivering confidently to a tricky audience!
We had a really enjoyable afternoon at the college, the staff were lovely and very helpful and fed and watered us well! The stop and search presentation went fairly smoothly, the students were engaging with us and by the end of the second presentation were more than happy to ‘get involved’. We used some of the PowerPoint presentation for the social media presentation, but mainly we got the group talking about the advantages and disadvantages of social media and touching on the law and relevant cases. The students probably knew more than we did, which was no surprise really, but they were all a very accommodating /forgiving bunch.
The prison experience was incredibly enlightening. I am embarrassed to admit I went into it with preconceived ideas about prisons akin to what I’d seen on TV and film so was expecting something like The Shawshank Redemption. What I experienced was meeting prisoners who genuinely wanted to reform, who’d used their time inside to educate themselves ready for when they are finally released back into society. The whole prison experience was utterly fascinating and so much more enriching than simply writing an assignment. My advice for anyone taking on this Pro Bono work is to go into it with an open mind and listen carefully to the people you’re helping. These people want your help, they want to learn, they want to be educated and you have the tools at your disposal to do this.
I am extremely nervous when it comes to public speaking, however, above all else I wanted to try and make a difference, even if it was a difference to just one person it would have been worth it. I used this to get me through the day, with the level of questions from the students it was clear that we had been able reach them, which was all the reward I needed to help me going forward.