Following a successful pilot, teaming up with law students to educate school pupils in the law and legal skills, the Society is seeking more students (and graduates) to expand its "Street Law" scheme

For the last few months the Society has been rolling out a programme called Street Law, which is the teaching of law in schools in an interactive way. We have been working with schools in Glasgow and West Lothian during the pilot of this project and are about to bring Street Law to a number of local authorities across Scotland.

So what’s involved? Well, Street Law is taught by law students, who have been trained in the Street Law method. They work with the schools to discuss possible areas of interest for the pupils, which can range from environmental law, to the law surrounding social media, and crime. Interactive lessons are then developed and delivered to the classes, over the course of a school term. The classes can cover the knowledge and skills that school pupils can use to recognise, prevent and (in some cases) resolve legal problems. The course is grounded in the experience of the young people: it is a course in practical law.

Street Law lessons are characterised by rich legal content examining practical law, legal policy and the constitution. Lessons focus not only on what the law is but, crucially, begin the discussion of “what the law ought to be”. The classes build on the pupils’ inherent interest in law, and their own experiences, to develop high-level cognitive skills, literacy skills and interpersonal skills. So far, the feedback from schools has been extremely positive, with many pupils expressing an interest in law as a possible career choice, and all schools reporting a huge amount of engagement and discussion amongst the pupils at each lesson.

As we start to roll out the project to more schools and local authorities, we are inviting more Street Law trainers to get involved. All LLB and Diploma students and graduates are welcome to get involved and attend the training session in January. Here we speak to one of our current trainers, Catriona Smith, an undergraduate LLB student at the University of Glasgow, to find out more about her experiences:

What made you want to sign up to be involved in Street Law?

I signed up to Street Law to share my knowledge of the law with others. The pupils are of an age where they will soon be entering employment, renting, and facing other contractual obligations for the first time, so it is vital that they understand the nature of law and how much everyday life is affected and monitored by the law. Most people assume the law to be simply about crime and punishment, but I wanted to help the pupils understand that the law is more than that; it is the basis of a civilised society, which is present from family disputes to property ownership to wills and succession.

Do you enjoy it?

I loved working at St Roch’s High School. The staff and pupils were so accommodating and friendly. It was so rewarding knowing that all I have learnt throughout my time at university was being put to such good use. The pupils were very willing to learn and had fun doing it.

What has been the highlight so far?

The greatest highlight for me was after weeks of lessons when the pupils started communicating using legal language rather than simplifying the legal principles. This showed that they actually had an understanding of the law which they did not have before.

What do you feel you get out of it?

I built great relationships with the pupils and the class teacher and have expressed my absolute pleasure to work with them again. I am now helping one of the pupils establish a debate club at the school, as well as others with communication and group skills. A few pupils have expressed their desire to further their education in the law and I have offered to help with personal statements in their applications for university.

What would you say to someone who is considering being part of Street Law?

I would definitely recommend taking part. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable and fulfilling experience. So much so that I have furthered my Street Law duties to work in another school. The pupils admire and respect your opinion, an experience I had considered rare.

Heather McKendrick is careers and outreach manager, Education & Training, at the Law Society of Scotland. If you are interested in getting involved with Street Law, please email Heather at careers@lawscot.org.uk

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