Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Study
  3. Student Awards

Student Awards

The Open University Law School (OULS) celebrates the exceptional achievements of its high calibre students for 2019, awarded in 2020. There were also awards presented for the Masters of Laws LLM Student of the Year 2019 and prizes were awarded by the Open Justice Centre.

The Student Achievement Awards 2019/20

Image of Christina Hallam

Bachelor of Laws LLB Student of the Year: Christina Hallam

Image of Dr Anna Ezekiel

Masters of Laws Dissertation of the Year: Dr Anna Ezekiel

Open Justice Awards 2020

Heidi Key and Olivia Leeper are the joint winners of the ‘Outstanding individual contribution to Open Justice’, with Neil Burlinson as runner-up, in this year’s awards.

Image of Heidi Key

Outstanding individual contribution to Open Justice: Heidi Key

Heidi took part in a group project with the Freedom Law Clinic (FLC) in which Open Justice students worked in small groups to assist in the process of advising clients on the prospects of appealing their case to the Criminal Case Review Commission. The FLC assists clients with investigating whether there are grounds to appeal against their conviction and/or sentence. Students assist the FLC with a variety of tasks including researching and preparing legal arguments on an appeal.

She said: “This opportunity changed my life. I had a great team and tutor that helped boost my confidence, giving me the ability to make the most of the skills I had and work on new skills. I worked with the FLC on a complex criminal case which I thoroughly enjoyed; I have also been accepted to further work with the FLC. This experience has resulted in my growth as a person and professionally. I intend to go into pro bono work in the future.”

Tutor Gillian Mawdsley who nominated Heidi for this award added: “Her development in an individual and team capacity was outstanding. Heidi used a microphone for the first time ever as a student in a January meeting; from then, she went on to chair all the concluding meetings. She led her team in a number of non-academic ways including developing a virtual coffee morning to support each other and used the Tutor Group Forum to post substantially on reflection.

“Heidi shone in developing confidence and found leadership skills within the team where feedback was received on how much she was appreciated and had been a real team leader. She epitomises for me what ‘open justice’ and being a lawyer is. This award demonstrates just how far her journey has taken her in a remarkable development, showing me that she would make an excellent lawyer.”

Image of Olivia Leeper

Outstanding individual contribution to Open Justice: Olivia Leeper 

Olivia also took part in the Freedom Law Clinic (FLC) project and has been offered a training contract in a law firm in Norfolk. After obtaining an MA in English Literature in 2004, she worked in publishing and the voluntary sector before studying for the LLB while raising her three children.

She said: “I was excited about the Open Justice course for both the practical exposure to different elements of the world of law; and also because it gave me the opportunity to contribute towards social justice by providing advice and support for those who were unable to access it through other means. What I did not anticipate was how incredibly helpful the activities would be for my personal development. The skills I have learnt have not only given me a much-needed boost of confidence but I have also gained insight into where my skills lie. This has been invaluable when applying for training contracts. I loved studying for my LLB with The Open University, and for me, Open Justice can best be described as the icing on the cake.”

She was nominated by her tutor Arj Arul who added: “Olivia made consistently strong, supportive and valid contributions towards all the team discussions during her FLC work. The FLC provided specific feedback that her substantive contribution raised a novel point and was insightful. She demonstrated in her work all the hallmarks of a qualified practitioner. Her W360 Justice in Action work was consistently at distinction level.”

Image of Neil Burlinson

Outstanding individual contribution to Open Justice: Neil Burlinson | Runner up

Neil took part in a group project visiting HMP Send in Surrey. These prison projects involve the students researching general legal topics relevant to prisoners, followed by presentations either in person or over prison radio.

He said: “W360 Justice in Action was a great opportunity to put some legal skills into practice, helping others while also helping myself. It allowed me to develop and apply existing skills in a very different environment to what I am used to, meeting and learning from some interesting people.”

Neil’s tutor Kate Ritchie nominated him and added: “Neil made an outstanding contribution to the prison project at HMP Send from start to finish – he had clear insight into the objectives and potential benefits, while at the same time, having a realistic appreciation of some of the challenges. He was always well prepared at planning meetings and exhibited natural leadership capability in his capacity to inspire and mobilise the rest of the team, with excellent communication skills.

“The activities he devised were imaginative and engaging and the feedback from the St Giles Trust and his fellow group members confirmed that these were very well received by the peer advisors. In the first session, Neil’s quick thinking ensured that the session didn’t flounder when the team ran out of activities. I would say that his input was significant overall in ensuring the success of this particular project.”

Open Justice Awards 2020 team winners

The ‘Outstanding team contribution to Open Justice’ saw a group of five win in this year’s awards, with the runners-up part of the Street Law project.

Winners – Daniel Doody, Elizabeth Walker, Jack Brown, Kelly Louise Martin and Lilly May Seddon 

A group of students worked on a face-to-face pop-up law clinic in Rawtenstall in Lancashire, joining forces with the MP for Rossendale and Darwin, Jake Berry, Rawtenstall Unitarian Church, and University of Lancaster Law School, to offer legal advice to the community at the start of 2020. Other students assisted with the project online. However, this particular part of the group were nominated by project managers Francine Ryan and Liz Hardie who were impressed with how the students gave up their time, including taking time off work to attend Rawtenstall to interview clients for the clinic.

We continue to be impressed with the support and dedication our students show to their communities. All the students who participated in this project volunteered alongside commitments to their studies, work and families. In addition, the group who travelled to Rawtenstall took holidays and unpaid leave; they worked tirelessly on each visit interviewing clients throughout the day. We were struck by the level of professionalism and confidence the students showed and this was reflected in the very positive feedback we received from clients.

Francine Ryan, Project Manager

This was truly a unique experience to apply the knowledge I have learnt during my studies with the OU, along with giving back to the community. It distilled that once I am qualified, I wish to practice in a social area of law relating to family and housing and aid in bridging the gap for those accessing justice.

Elizabeth Walker, Team member

W360 Justice in Action was by far the module that knitted together all the work put in over the past years while studying. The pro bono project work in the pop-up law clinic not only provided great experience in the practical side of working in law but also allowed me to give something back to a community I grew up in

Daniel Doody, Team member

Runners-up – Lauren Shanahan-Smith and Natalie Healey

Lauren and Natalie worked together on the Street Law project, which is extracurricular and offered to Law students at all levels, which was unfortunately cut short earlier this year by the Covid-19 pandemic. Public legal education ‘Street Law’ workshops in secondary schools and community groups aim to promote a greater understanding of law and legal issues. Through the interactive workshops, audiences engage on legal issues of particular relevance to them through a range of activities.

Taking part in the Open Justice projects will help develop the kind of skills valued by future employers.

Lauren Shanahan-Smith, Team member

I was very impressed with Lauren and Natalie during this project. Despite having their own school in Bournemouth to prepare workshops for, they came to the rescue for the Milton Keynes cadets despite the distance to travel at night-time and both worked hard to make this engaging and interactive. They also produced great work for Bournemouth who wanted several days covering some hard-hitting topics including consent for 14-year olds in an appropriate, informative and interactive way. Both sessions received very positive feedback.

Avril Martin, Project Manager

Request your prospectus

Request a prospectus icon

Explore our qualifications and courses by requesting one of our prospectuses today.

Request prospectus

Are you already an OU student?

Go to StudentHome