Harriet Harman Praises Street Law Students

June 10, 2002

Today Solicitor General Harriet Harman QC MP praised the work of two postgraduate law students from the University of Glamorgan for their work in promoting awareness of legal issues within local secondary schools in a “Street Law and Citizenship” project.Ms Harman met Victoria Giblin and Simon Morea at a reception at the University’s Law School following the launch of National Pro Bono Week at the National Assembly for Wales.

Pro bono work is the term used for legal services offered free by barristers, and this week’s activities will highlight the work being done by lawyers across England and Wales in offering support to community groups and charities who are unable to afford the usual legal fees. Glamorgan is the only university in Wales carrying out pro bono work

The Student Pro Bono Challenge, organised by the London corporate lawyers Clyde and Co., was set up to encourage students to develop projects taking legal expertise to voluntary agencies and community groups.

The Glamorgan students” project was aimed at teenagers in Rhondda Cynon Taff schools. Simon and Victoria, both studying for the CPE/Postgraduate Diploma in Law, ran a series of workshops on “Street Law” for 14 to 16 year-olds, aimed at showing how the law affects them.

The workshops took a particular situation, like car crime or a racist attack, and students created their own laws to rectify the problem. The project also looked at day-to-day events in school that pupils might not appreciate as being governed by law.

“Bullying, violence and harassment go on in schools in a way that would never be tolerated in the workplace,” Victoria said. “At the age of fourteen and fifteen, pupils often don”t see incidents like these as legal issues – they see the law as something that happens outside the school environment, and doesn”t apply to them. We tried to show the consequences, not just of being the perpetrators of a crime, but of standing by and allowing it to happen.”

Both students want to use their skills in the community in future. Simon feels that young people in particular are ignorant of what the law can do. “Once they see how the law can protect them – that it’s not just there to catch them out – they can understand why it’s important to get to know their legal rights and responsibilities,” he said.

Ms Harman praised the passion the students had brought to educating young people. “The result has been two-fold,” she said. “You have made a difference to your community, and this project has enabled you to develop your own skills and understanding in a way that you could not have found in text books. You’ve shown that the law can be fun, and if that encourages school children to consider a legal career, that’s a terrific bonus.”

The graduates” own careers have been given a boost as a result of their Pro Bono project. Although they will be continuing their legal studies, they both have work on the horizon, Victoria with a Newport firm of solicitors, and Simon with South Gloucestershire Council.

Information about Law courses at the University of Glamorgan is available at www.glam.ac.uk/law

Note to Editors National Pro Bono Week is jointly organised by the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Solicitors Pro Bono Group and the Bar Pro Bono Unit.