My first Lawyers in Schools session…

Monday 12th November saw the first Lawyers in Schools sessions of 2012/13 for Burlington Danes Academy. There, lawyers from Olswang and BBC Worldwide work in partnership to deliver the programme to two Year 10 classes.

As always the first session ‘Learning about the Law’ generated lots of discussion and whetted the students’ appetite for legal knowledge and critical debate. It was great to see this in action, but I wondered how the lawyers and students had really felt before the session begun…

‘I thought the lawyers were going to be uptight, dull and greedy because that’s what I’d been told they’re like and that’s how they are often portrayed in the media. However, during the session I changed my view because these lawyers were actually taking their time to be there to teach us about the law. They were also much more relaxed and casual than I thought they’d be.

The most interesting thing I learnt during the session was that you have to be 13 to get a part time job, but there is no minimum wage for under 16 year olds, which I thought was strange because 13 year olds are much more likely to get exploited.’

Student – Burlington Danes Academy

‘When I was told that my tutor group was going to take part in the Lawyers in Schools programme – I was not looking forward to it in all honesty. This was because of associations I made with lawyers – debating, politics, and rules, which sounded boring and dull to me. However, once the session actually began the volunteers were welcoming, friendly and easy to talk to, which instantly broke down the tension on my table. Their introductions also made the session more enjoyable and encouraging and I actually wanted to take part and participate in the group work. As the minutes passed and the session came to an end, I realised that I was glad to be part of the programme and that I was looking forward to the next session. Overall, the experience was very informative whilst entertaining – it was a really good lesson.’

Student – Burlington Danes Academy

And how did the lawyers feel…?

‘As I woke up early on Monday morning I felt a flutter of butterflies – it was my first day back at school. Well, kind of! I was off to Burlington Danes Academy in Hammersmith to attend the first session of the ‘Lawyers in Schools’ programme. I was a little anxious as to how well received the group of lawyers and legal staff would be first thing on a Monday morning however, I was pleasantly surprised.

From the moment we walked in, the students were engaged and very well behaved. They were also well informed and seemed eager to have discussions around the topics, so eager in fact that we barely got through half of the material! They appeared to really enjoy the first activity, ‘when can you…?’ An interesting debate was had around the age at which you are able to make decisions for yourself and therefore be allowed to vote, go to the doctor unattended and become responsible for your own crimes.

The students found the second activity, ‘sorting out the law’ slightly more challenging, particularly with the idea that you don’t always go to prison if you kill someone. This was a good opportunity to explain to them some of the subtleties of the law and need for intent to commit a crime and the charge of manslaughter. All in all, I found the first lesson very fulfilling and am looking forward to going back in a couple of weeks.’

Hannah Blake – member of the legal team at BBC Worldwide

Olswang joined the Lawyers in Schools programme in 2008; they brought BBC Worldwide on board in 2009 to join forces with their lawyers at Burlington Danes Academy. Olswang also work with Haverstock School in Chalk Farm where they deliver sessions with barristers from Blackstone Chambers.

To find out more about the partnership with Burlington Danes Academy please visit the case study pages of the Lawyers in Schools website.

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

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