The Streetlaw Project at BPP Law School
Victoria Speed is Joint Director of Pro Bono & CSR at BPP University Law School. She is responsible for BPP Law School’s Pro Bono Centre that facilitates around 30 projects which provide legal advice and education services to the most vulnerable. Law students volunteer to deliver pro bono services under the supervision of qualified solicitors. Here she writes about BPP Streetlaw, BPP Pro Bono Centre’s public legal education project.
About Streetlaw at BPP
Streetlaw is BPP Law School’s largest pro bono project. We deliver 200 plus Streetlaw presentations a year around the UK reaching over 3000 members of the public. This is public legal education in action as our students deliver interactive presentations in prisons, homeless shelters, schools and community groups.
There are benefits to the public in that presentations are often tailor made to suit the issues faced by the particular audience in question. For example, our students might be asked by a secondary school to talk about the law on “sexting” and by prison staff to talk to soon-to-be-released prisoners on the effects, in law, of a criminal record. There are many advantages for students too. They learn to speak on their feet and to explain law in clear and simple language. They also meet individuals for whom law is largely seen as irrelevant to their daily lives and seen as an instrument of the police and of government, rather than a tool to improve minimum standards of work and of living. I’ve seen law students transformed in these environments, suddenly appreciating the value of being able to understand law and the value that skill can have in society. They find a purpose for their studies and a motivation for their career. They understand that being a lawyer is more than having a job. Streetlaw experiences can demonstrate that knowledge of law can inspire an individual to seek help and a community to take action. To learn this as a young lawyer can only be a good thing for the future of the legal profession.
The BPP Streetlaw Team
In the BPP Pro Bono Centre we have a dedicated Streetlaw team led by our Supervising Solicitor, Rachael Kirkup, who sets strategy to ensure training for our students and presentations we offer are fit for purpose. Racheal Busingye is responsible for London students, working to ensure a packed diary of presentation opportunities. Finally, Kate Lennie keeps Leeds students busy in schools in their area. Pro Bono Managers in other law schools network regularly to create suitable partnerships in homeless shelters, schools and more. It is a great team, passionate about the benefits of public legal education in society and dedicated to improving the student Streetlaw experience.
Annual Ireland and UK Streetlaw Best Practice Conference
In September, we had the good fortune of joining the 2nd Annual Ireland and UK Streetlaw Best Practice Conference. Full of professionals working in university Streetlaw groups, just like us, we were shown examples of good practice, we engaged in debate about effectiveness of certain teaching tools and were dazzled by the legends in our work including Richard Roe, Professor in Law and Director of Street Law at Georgetown University, USA http://www.law.georgetown.edu/faculty/roe-richard-l.cfm. His utter belief in and commitment to public legal education is inspiring and motivating for all who meet him.
Our BPP Pro Bono Centre team presented on the use of online tools for delivery of public legal education. We placed online Streetlaw sessions on Facebook aimed at improving access to clear information about asylum law in Europe to the many migrants to our continent. We have online offerings too for unrepresented parties in employment tribunal matters. It may not have the benefit of face to face discussion but we cannot hope to reach in person everyone in need of knowledge about their legal position. Online and social media offer possibilities for empowering those who we cannot meet. Now, back from the conference and already into the new academic year, we are full of ideas of different ways to encourage learning in our communities.
Public Legal Education and National Pro Bono Week
We are particularly excited about National Pro Bono Week taking place from 6-10 November 2017 when we are running Public Legal Education events across the country.
The BPP Pro Bono Centre, in collaboration with the Citizenship Foundation, is inviting legal professionals and law students across the UK to be part of a coordinated public legal education campaign to bring the law to life in their local secondary schools. You can join the campaign to share your skills and knowledge with young people, through the delivery of a one hour workshop on Social Media and the Law. The workshop examines real life cases of people who have committed offences over social media and gets schoolchildren to consider their opinions about an area of the law which is rapidly changing and evolving.
You are encouraged to contact a secondary school local to you to set up a workshop during w/c 6th November 2017, and you will receive support throughout the campaign including:
(a) Teaching resources which contain all the necessary legal content and have been designed by educational experts to stimulate debate and discussion; and
(b) Access to on-line training to ensure that they feel confident in the school classroom environment.
To find out more, please email PLE@my.bpp.com and a member of the Pro Bono Centre team will provide you with further details.
For more information about Streetlaw at BPP Law School, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.