Street Law, the Law Society of Scotland's education programme for school pupils in disadvantaged areas, has been named Best Training Initiative at the inaugural European Association Awards.
The awards, held in Brussels on 24 February and hosted by the BBC's Mark Mardell, recognise and reward exceptional achievements by organisations throughout Europe. Street Law was chosen in its category ahead of five other shortlisted schemes.
Street Law involves specially trained law students developing and delivering interactive lessons which help Scottish school pupils in disadvantaged areas to explore and understand how the law impacts on all strands of society, including themselves, their family and friends.
Based around real life scenarios, the content is easy to relate to and encourages pupils who might not otherwise have considered further studies or a career in law, to get involved.
The project was piloted by the Society in 2014, after a review of diversity within the legal profession found that fewer than one in 12 entrants to the LLB came from disadvantaged backgrounds. Originating at Georgetown University in 1972, Street Law was one of the recommended responses to the issue of fair and equal access to the profession.
From eight schools in Glasgow that year, by 2016 it had grown to 30 programmes to over 1,000 pupils in 46 schools across Scotland, and there are plans for further growth in 2017.
Claire Wormsley, managing director of Global Conference Network (GCN), the Award organisers, commented: “Today’s winners should be proud. Earning a European Excellence Award is a significant achievement, and reflects the exceptional efforts and outstanding results they have achieved in the association sector.”
Heather McKendrick, head of careers and outreach at the Law Society of Scotland, responded: “Street Law is an amazing initiative which tackles problems around inequality of opportunity for young people in disadvantaged areas of Scotland.
"The programme is a long-term investment in young people in Scotland and a demonstration of the Law Society and our sponsorship partners’ commitment to diversity in the legal profession. Pinsent Masons, Ashurst and CMS Cameron McKenna have been unwavering in their support of Street Law and we couldn’t do the work we do without them.
"We are also hugely indebted to our enthusiastic law students and schools who work with us to deliver the programme. We are all very proud of Street Law and to have our work acknowledged by our association peers, is a real achievement.”