Street Law – a module to enhance the transferable skills of law students through a digitally resourced and digitally supported module in community legal education (undergraduate law students teaching second level students)

Partner Institutions

Project Lead: Letterkenny Institute of Technology

Project Partners: Trinity College Dublin, National University of Ireland Galway

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Primary Contact(s)


Anne Burke

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

Email: anne.burke@lyit.ie

Detailed Proposal

‘Street law’ involves teaching practical law to grassroots audiences using interactive teaching methodologies. It is a form of Public Legal Education (PLE) which is internationally accredited as being mutually beneficial to both the trainers and the recipients. The trainers (law students) develop professional and other transferable skills and second level students are introduced to legal information in an engaging and interactive way. Elements of practical law taught might include awareness of human rights/civil rights, democratic principles, conflict resolution, criminal justice, employment law, civil liberties and human rights (or the target audience themselves select the areas of law that they wish to learn about).

Introduction of the Street Law module grounded in digital resources represents a new departure in undergraduate legal pedagogy in Ireland and simultaneously creates the space for collaboration between third level institutions and their communities. In this proposal the collaborating third level institutions will partner with secondary schools to introduce the law to pupils in an accessible, engaging and interactive way to positively impact second level students and their communities while third level students develop professional and transferable skills as required by the Hunt Report. It is aimed at a target audience of Transition Year School students in the Partner Secondary Schools and will be delivered by third level undergraduate law students in highly participatory classes using a digital platform that will be developed to support learning. An interactive blog including discussion forum will be created by learners to facilitate reflective and thus enhanced learning. Delivery on a national scale will be facilitated by the development of digital resources to support the implementation of the programme. The central activities of this proposal are the development of these digital resources and supports followed by the piloting of the delivery of the module and informed refinement before national implementation.

1. Learning through Teaching-the primary purpose of the Street Law programme is to provide legal education to the community whilst simultaneously facilitating the professional development of law students. Third level students will gain a greater knowledge of substantive law as they will be required to ‘teach’, that is explain the law in an accessible and applied way.

2. Creating collaborative partnerships between third and second level educational sectors-the use of third level students to educate second level students will also foster and encourage links between second and third level education- a crucial relationship for many reasons and not least because of the need to manage the transition from second to third level and to ensure that informed choices are made about third-level courses, thereby reducing attrition levels.

3. Enhancing Digital Learning-the use of a digital platform to deliver and support the programme will provide the opportunity for both sets of learners to enhance their online learning experience. The digital enhancement of this learning will maximise the accessible and continuous nature of the learning.

4. Learning about Social Justice and unmet legal need-participation in the Street Law programme will improve the second level students’ knowledge of the legal system along with an understanding of the values and forces that shape the law. The legal content is selected by the second level students and as such is grounded in their own experience thus increasing their awareness of the relevance of law in their everyday lives. The knowledge and skills acquired by the second level pupils are those needed by citizens to operate effectively in the community. From the third-level student’s perspective, exposure to the causes, contexts and potential solutions to legal problems affecting youth and the development of a sense of responsibility to serve the community are key outcomes.

5. Learning through the Street Law Method- problem based learning/ creating a trajectory of complexity. The pedagogic method is highly participatory and so facilitates active learning for all participants. The interactive methodology deployed whereby the story gradually unfolds as relevant information is provided incrementally increases the enjoyment and engagement of all participants.

6. Creating a pipeline to the Legal Profession- In addition to optimising their role as a citizen, the Street Law programme will also improve and create fairer access to the legal profession and so raise the career aspirations of second level students.

7. Enhancing Transferable Skills of Law students- the development of the professional skills of the third level students to include communication, research, planning and preparation, coordination and group work, confidence and presentation skills and the ability to respond on the spot/think on their feet.

8. Contribute to academic staff development –as well as collaborating with colleagues in law schools nationally, it is anticipated that academic staff will benefit from the training in problem-based-learning as well as enhancing their professional development through participation in the programme as mentors and developing their technology enhanced learning skills.

9. Create a permanent repository of legal material- in the form of lesson plans, created by and for students, to be utilised in the design and delivery of other Street Law programmes in Ireland, in keeping with the Street Law ethos.

10. Enhancing the development of Clinical Legal Education at undergraduate level in Ireland- this is a paradigm shift in legal education in Ireland which has already begun and is gaining recognition as an effective methodology in legal education. At present, it is available in various guises in many of the law schools but is confined to legal information clinics, clinical placements, standardized client models and research activities. This will be the first iteration of Street Law at undergraduate level and it will enhance clinical education in Ireland as well as adding both a collaborative and a digital dimension which are currently lacking.

Street Law works because it is a carefully structured methodology (LawWorks, 2009), as pioneered by Georgetown Law School in 1942 and still the leading methodology. It is proposed that an orientation clinic and training will be provided by these innovators.

Implementation will involve 5 stages beginning with a consultation period.

Stage 1: Initial research and consultation will be conducted with international expert advisers followed by consultation with all relevant stakeholders to include secondary schools, particularly those involved in Transition Year and/or outreach programmes, undergraduate students, academic and technical staff and guidance counsellors- to be completed by January 2016.

Stage 2: Delivery of the Street Law Module which will comprise:-
• Orientation/ Training Clinic by international experts;
• Design and preparation of law presentations, supporting materials and resources;
• Development of a digital framework to support the use of a digital pedagogy in delivery and student engagement;
• Supervised delivery of law classes by third level law students to pupils in partnering secondary schools; and
• Design and construction of an interactive digital platform by students in collaboration with second level pupils.

Stage 3: Module ‘Street Law” to be piloted to minimum of two secondary schools in September 2016.

Stage 4: Evaluation of the pilot project in January 2017.

Stage 5: Delivery of the Street Law programme nationwide (January -June 2017). Street Law will be promoted to all schools and HEIs nationally to ensure optimal impact. Initial promotion will be through the Law Departments of collaborating institutions to all secondary schools.

A particular focus will be the engagement of legal academics in its development to facilitate and encourage recognition of the capacity of digital resources to enhance third level education in law. Online promotion will include YouTube video and Blog highlighting the relevant and accessible nature of Street Law