Following its recent nomination for ‘Best training initiative’ at the European Association Awards, our Head of Education Rob Marrs sets out plans for the future of Street Law.
The Society’s aims are to lead legal excellence and to be a world-class professional body. Amongst other objectives, we aim to influence the creation of a fairer and more just society both here and internationally. Street Law is a perfect example of how we are succeeding in meeting these aims. Street Law provokes debate and discussion on legal issues in schools – we hope that leads to more young people thinking about how society ought to be shaped. It also allows us to collaborate across borders.
Street Law sounds simple because it is simple. We send trained law students into schools to teach practical law to pupils. Over a number of weeks those law students teach interactive lessons – some on crime, some on civil matters, some on matters of public policy. Those law students craft and design the lessons themselves. The feedback from schools has been universally positive.
There’s a lot more to it though. All Street Lawyers go through an intensive training weekend.
That weekend brings together law students from each law school in Scotland. The training itself has been put together in a collaboration between Georgetown Law Clinic, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Penn State University, the Law Society of Ireland and ourselves. It is constantly being refined and improved. The programme is supported by three law firms: Pinsent Masons, CMS Cameron McKenna, and Ashurst.
So the lesson on stop and search at Govan High School delivered by students from Glasgow University and Glasgow Caledonian University is the product of collaboration between two professional bodies, three universities and three law firms. The pupils benefit, the students benefit, and in due course the profession benefits. The programme shows collaboration at its best.
So what next? Simply: We want to see Street Law in many more schools in Scotland particularly in Aberdeen, Dundee and Stirling. We’d also like to engage with schools in more rural locations if we can.
Building on Street Law we hope to launch our first summer school this year which we hope will be a bridge between Street Law and the LLB. We believe that such a summer school for pupils from schools that typically do not send many people to law school could be a hugely positive force.
We’re also keen to see if there is an appetite to create a legal qualification for schools. The most obvious way to do that is to create a new type of qualification called a ‘Foundation Apprenticeship’. Such an apprenticeship is a way to help young people gain valuable, real-world work experience and access work-based learning whilst they are still at school. For such a qualification to be created though we need to have destinations (other than the LLB) for school leavers and we need to be able to show wider support from the legal sector.
Street Law has grown quickly since those first lessons in 2014 in five Glasgow schools. It shows the future of the profession at its very best. Let’s build on it.