Lawyers in Schools celebrates 15 years! Tuesday, 10th June 2014
Last Thursday Lawyers in Schools celebrated its 15th Birthday. Olswang kindly hosted the evening for us in their beautifully panoramic event space, where they went all out with balloons, jelly and even Lawyers in Schools cupcakes.
Andrew Phillips OBE (President of the Citizenship Foundation) spoke of the disconnect between the public and an increasingly complex legal system and how this makes the work of Lawyers in Schools ‘vital’. He ended by challenging the team to take our vital work even further over the next 15 years, to reach 2000 schools, a figure we would also love to achieve, but will need the help of many more legal professionals and schools to get there.
Jonathan Smithers, Deputy Vice President of The Law Society then spoke about how volunteering goes hand in hand with the legal profession and that Lawyers in Schools is a ‘shining example’ of how trainees and professionals can use their professional skills to engage young people in current and relevant issues.
No Lawyers in Schools event is complete without an activity taken from one of our modules. This year, to tie in with the 15th Birthday theme, guests - who included corporate partners, students and teachers - had to consider and discuss whether or not 15 year olds should be able to vote, buy cigarettes and leave school to get a full time job. This instigated a lively discussion with excellent points being made, often by the students themselves.
Carolyn Frame (Professional Support Executive, BBC Worldwide), then spoke about participating as part of an in-house legal team. She described how surprised and impressed with the students’ ingenious ways of approaching everyday situations she was. She also highlighted that relationships had been strengthened, both externally with Olswang who they partnered with to volunteer at Burlington Danes Academy, and internally between volunteers from BBC Worldwide, who even developed telepathic communications techniques in the classroom!
Robert Powell (CSR Manager, CMS Cameron McKenna) spoke about CMS Cameron McKenna’s developing involvement with Lawyers in Schools. They partner with National Grid in London working with The Urswick School, and will be extending their English programme to Bristol next year. They have also been our international pioneers working with schools in Romania and leading the way into Scotland. As Robert described, law in education, morals and ethics are universal concepts which make the Lawyers in Schools model easily replicable.
Katherine Rowley-Conwy, a teacher from Highbury Fields School, also spoke about the positive impact Lawyers in Schools had within the school. She told us of one student with a previously bad attendance record, who was inspired to turn up, without fail, to every Lawyers in Schools class.
The highlight of the evening was students from Haggerston School speaking eloquently and passionately about the impact Lawyers in Schools had on them personally. One student even attributed her being able to stand and talk in front of a group of adults to the confidence she had gained during the project. (See what they said here).
Happy Birthday Lawyers in Schools! Congratulations and thanks to all of our law firms, in-house teams, chambers’, schools, volunteers, students and teachers – past and present – who have made the programme such a long-standing and impactful success.