The Open University Law School (OULS) celebrated the exceptional achievements of its high calibre students for 2018, awarded in 2019, at an ceremony in Milton Keynes in July. The awards ceremony celebrated the winner of the Tom Bingham Memorial Essay Prize, awarded annually. This year, there were also special prizes awarded by the Open Justice Centre.
The awards were presented by Professor Devendra Kodwani, Executive Dean.
It’s a real privilege to meet so many of our talented Law students and to celebrate their achievements and successes. These winning students have all distinguished themselves as the highest achievers in their qualification and fields with a real determination to succeed. In this, the OU’s 50th year, I wish all these deserved winners my warmest congratulations on their achievements and for continued success in the future.Professor Devendra Kodwani
Lucy thoroughly enjoyed studying for her law degree – raising two young children, the flexibility of The Open University allowed her to study part-time. While studying, Lucy was working as an advisor for Citizens Advice and she highly recommends this to anyone who is studying law, as it enables students to gain experience applying the law and delivering advice to clients from all walks of life. It also allowed her to help people who, without the help of Citizens Advice, would not have otherwise been able to obtain free advice. Lucy, who worked for the Open Justice Centre’s Law Clinic to gain further valuable experience in using legal systems and research methods, is now pursuing her career as a loss adjuster specialising in credit and political risk.
Nerys has a BSc in Biochemistry and began her career working first in a research capacity in the chemical industry and later, in quality assurance in the food industry. These roles furthered her already well-established interest in physical and environmental health. Nerys has always enjoyed studying and decided to pursue her interests by taking an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry part-time with The Open University, completing the qualification in 2014. After retiring from her career, she went on to work for several years as a volunteer advisor with Citizens Advice which motivated her current interest in law and led her to study her first legal module with the OU. Nerys then became fascinated by the way in which the legal, political, ethical and commercial disciplines interact and went on to complete the LLM qualification. She is now one of a group of enthusiastic volunteers who assist the rangers with maintenance tasks at a local coastal park.
Rebecca is currently a prison officer based at HMP Send. Prior to this, she worked as a mental health Paralegal, and a Legal Secretary at a corporate law firm. She has always had a keen interest in the development and application of the law, particularly the relationship between sociology and law, which has largely determined her career choices. Rebecca is now hoping to transition into offender management within the prison following her probationary period. She obtained a BA in History in 2012 at Kingston University and after a career change into the legal sector, she decided to study with The Open University to further her legal knowledge. Her research topic was an amalgamation of themes; she wanted to touch upon socio-legal issues such as regulation/deregulation, and the role of business in protecting individual liberty. Ultimately, she chose to focus on Southeast Asia because their manufacturing is currently outgrowing that of China, yet the way in which they are achieving such advances remains relatively unexplored.
John, having graduated in 1968 with an honours degree in Zoology from the University of London as an external student, pursued a career in bioscience, in both public and private sectors. His first appointment was at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in the Department of Endocrinology where he developed several new assays for hormones and applied them to clinical research and diagnosis. After working in a number of sectors, John finished his career working as a freelance consultant serving the bioscience and social enterprise sectors. Now retired, he has found the time to pursue his ambition of achieving a degree in law, having previously enrolled at Brunel University to study part-time for the LLB.
Jamahl took part in a group project visiting HMP Foston Hall in Derbyshire; these prison projects involve the students researching general legal topics relevant to prisoners, followed by presentations either in person or over prison radio. Jamahl’s tutor nominated him for this award as his focus, commitment, hard work and overall professionalism were exemplary and pivotal in ensuring the project stayed on course. He was ready to take on a variety of tasks including some which pushed him outside his comfort zone, attended all small group meetings despite other commitments, regularly stepping up to take on unfilled roles, going above and beyond what could reasonably have been expected, and always cheerfully and without complaint. He also offered some thoughtful and creative suggestions for making the later sessions more interactive which worked well. The others in the team highly valued his contributions (Jamahl pictured left).
Ben worked in Citizens Advice for one day a week for most of the module and reduced his working hours to four days a week so he can attend, at some financial detriment to his family. The Citizens Advice where he works is understaffed and so he was quickly given responsibility for manning a busy reception and interviewing clients both face-to-face and via phone. Ben has taken on much more responsibility than would be usual for a trainee volunteer. His tutor was very impressed by his ability to reflect each week on his experiences so that he improved his ability to help clients.
This team of students worked on the ‘digital justice project’, where students worked with the guidance of computing and law experts to develop a smartphone app, which provides legal information and guidance on employment law. Employment law does not feature on the law degree so the students not only had to get to grips with a new area of law but they also had to learn how to use the technology tools, to deliver the brief of an accessible public information tool. The students participated on an extra-curricular basis and did not know each other before taking part in the project. They attended a number of project planning meetings, dividing the tasks, and worked both independently and together to deliver an impressive smartphone app (William and Aimee pictured left).