Pro bono: Further reflections on the African Prisons Project experience

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One of the many activities the UWE Pro Bono Unit undertakes is the African Prisons Project. The project sees UWE students assisting prisoners and prison warders during their Law studies in Uganda and Kenya. Kathy Brown has previously blogged about the project here. In this post, Kelly Eastham reflects on her experience:

I never thought that I would have spent my summer working in 3 maximum security prisons in Kenya and never did I think that this would be the place that would inspire me the most.

I have had the most unforgettable summer of my life. I thought that my role this summer would be to “teach” but instead I have been taught some serious life lessons and I have learnt far more than I could have possibly taught. I have learnt more about myself in the space of these 2 months than I have my whole life. I have discovered my strengths and weaknesses and new passions and dreams. But most importantly I have learnt to be grateful for all of my blessings and to always remember how good I have it in comparison to those less fortunate.

I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing, selfless and inspiring people I have ever met. They continued to amaze me with their intelligence, their skill, their compassion and their hearts of gold. I am beyond moved by every single inmate and their motivation to achieve a law degree purely to help others with no regard for financial gain. This has been such a shocking contrast to the reality of life as a law student in the UK where money is a key (if not the main) motivator behind a legal career.

It has been heartbreaking to see how much a system has failed so many incredible people and branded them as criminals knowing they would never be in this situation if they were in the UK. It’s devastating to hear their dreadful stories of miscarriages of justice and all the unconstitutional death penalty’s that have been issued to people who are so undeserving but are now on death row for crimes not proportionate to such an outdated form of punishment. But despite all of this wrong doing the inmates all seemed in great spirits and they were all so grateful for the little things. It has been so emotional and almost uncomfortable to receive so much gratitude for simply being a nice human and helping people who are so deserving. For me this highlights how much prison reform really needs to take place if little things such as our support have been so impactful on their life. They deserve so much more help and support and it is frustrating to see how little they receive.

But on a more positive note it has been incredible to see the dignity and hope brought to places where there has previously been none and to take small steps to start improving their life and building up a future for them if they are released. All the work APP are doing has been a HUGE step in the right direction but there is still lots more work to be done. But I am so excited to see the impact of the amazing work we are doing in Africa. Being able to see at first hand the impact of the work we have achieved this year has been so motivating and emotional. I am so honoured to be a part of something that has had such a huge impact on the inmates lives and I cannot wait to continue working with APP. I hope our work continues to help achieve justice in the prison system and provides wrongly convicted inmates with a voice and the knowledge to support themselves and others victims of injustice.

This has been one of the most unforgettable life experience I could ever ask for and I hope all victims achieve the justice they deserve. I am so proud of all of my incredible students and being able to help them grow and develop has been the best thing I have ever done. My last week was full of some of the hardest goodbyes I have had to say and I know I will never forget any of them. Until next time Africa 🌍✈️

 

 

Introducing the Trailblazer programme: Free CPD for Bristol Law School alumni

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Bristol Law School are offering our alumni a pioneering and exclusive complimentary professional development programme, relevant across disciplines, regardless of when you graduated.

Launching in September 2018, our Trailblazer Programme will blend face-to-face sessions with webinars and social events. You will be motivated to maximise personal impact, boost effectiveness and develop leadership skills.

Facilitated by experienced academics, seasoned practitioners, and inspirational speakers, this programme echoes the mantra of learning by doing what is integral to our Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School.

Who is it for?

Offered exclusively to UWE Bristol alumni on a complimentary basis, this is a chance to continue the learning that you began when you were a student. The programme enables you to take advantage of your lifelong connection to our expertise and community.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this programme, however places will be offered exclusively to UWE Bristol alumni from our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Content

The programme incorporates four face-to-face sessions alongside online learning through webinars and two social events per a cohort.

Session 1 – Leading Self for Personal Effectiveness: Learn how to adapt your behaviour and actions when dealing with different individuals, tasks and situations. Acquire the skills to deliver exceptional performance, authentically.

Session 2 – Leading Others for Impact: Practical tips on creating high performing teams focusing on; healthy team dynamics, influencing and communicating.

Session 3 – Coaching and Mentoring: Transform your personal management style in this practical session by developing your coaching and mentoring skills to enhance performance and encourage self-exploration.

Session 4 – Design Thinking: Experience the creative process of finding new and transformative solutions to problems whilst also generating innovative ideas and opportunities.

Webinars: Webinar topics will be decided at the start of the programme to ensure these are relevant to the current business environment.They will be available live or pre-recorded.

Graduation: Graduation event for the year’s cohorts.

Professional accreditation

We are seeking to get this programme approved by the CPD Certification Service, meaning you will receive a certificate to demonstrate your CPD hours through completion of this programme*.

The growing network of participants will benefit from lasting relationships with likeminded professionals.

*subject to approval being granted.

Places for the course are limited to 40 participants per cohort. For more information and to apply for your free place, please see here.

Pro-bono works: Employability success for students

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Marcus Keppel-Palmer, Director of Pro Bono, reflects on the experiences of some recent Law students who have worked in the UWE Pro Bono Unit:

Employers, Law firms particularly, view students who have undertaken Pro Bono work very favourably. Not only does participation in Pro Bono show commitment by students to a legal career, but it also gives valuable opportunities for students to develop their lawyering skills beyond the classroom. Additionally, the virtues of working on real life cases adds a layer of “real work” with its need for teamwork, time management and communication skills. The Business Advice Clinic has operated a team this past year advising members of the Network for Creative Enterprise based at three sites in Bristol and one in Bath. The experience has proved valuable to the students who worked in this pressurised environment, and they have all been able to use the experience to obtain employment at the end of their courses.

The team consisted of mainly LPC students, Lucie, Henry, Matt, Ryan, Gabriel, Edwin, and one LLB student, Siddique. Lucie has obtained a training contract with Foot Anstey and her experience with the Business Advice Clinic played a part in her obtaining this role. As she commented: “The drop-in sessions at Spike Island, Watershed, The Guild and Knowle West Media Centre have provided students with excellent exposure of working with clients, and has assisted in the development of start-up businesses (many of which are UWE graduates) across Bristol and Bath.”

Matt obtained a job with Reynolds Porter Chamberlain before completing his LPC. He commented on his experience in the Clinic: “The NFCE Business Clinic has provided fresh challenges on every occasion. For a law student, pursuing a career as a practising solicitor this has been an extremely beneficial experience. In the sessions, we have dealt with a remarkable range of issues and have tackled any problems head-on. From another perspective, I strongly believe that the advice we have provided has positively impacted the businesses and people, we have been able to reach. And for me personally, it has been very fulfilling to give back to Bristol and its exciting entrepreneurial community.”

Siddique, as the only undergraduate found himself working with LPC students, but settled in well as he gained in confidence. He has set up his own sports agency business and has used the experience of advising similar businesses at the BAC to inform his decisions. Siddique commented: “I feel BAC has enabled me to develop a different skill set in comparison to placements that I have done. The reason for this is because unlike other experiences BAC puts a lot of responsibility on myself and other students. This means a substantial portion of the legwork such as interviewing clients, researching their problems and coming up with solutions was left to us and then later double checked by supervisors. Additionally, the focus on providing business advice to a range of business is different from other Pro Bono schemes. Finally, BAC also provided me an opportunity to develop practical skills to work in a variety of commercial environment as client’s issues range from intellectual property law to contract law. I believe moving forward BAC will help me greatly as it has shown me the various ways in which law interacts with the world and demonstrated the different avenues of work aside from becoming a barrister or solicitor.”

Ryan obtained a legal team assistant position with Burges Salmon and he attributes his experience at the BAC to assisting him with coming over as a credible candidate in interviews. Ryan commented: “The Business Advice Clinic provided me with invaluable experience which helped develop my understanding of a number of commercial areas, as well as my confidence. From the outset you are given real responsibility from conducting the interview right through to providing the advice. Having this experience has been a real benefit in interviews. It has helped me back up my commercial interest which is always a difficult question to answer and has enabled me to draw on real experience of the potential legal issues businesses can face.”

Although Edwin, as a Malaysian student, is concentrating on obtaining a Masters, he is still looking for ways to work in the UK. Henry, howver, has taken a job overseas. He is currently working as a paralegal with International Law Firm Dentons in Qatar and is considering an offer from the firm to undertake a training contract over there. Gabriel has, like Siddique, used his Pro Bono experience to go into a career analogous to the legal profession but not directly in private practice. Before graduating from the LPC, Gabriel attained a role at Leidos, the defence and aviation company. Gabriel said: “Interacting with clients and being able to help them with their legal issues was the most rewarding aspect of the Pro Bono and the most practical for my legal career. Being able to learn from my supervisor and my peers was also very insightful and helpful.” And in assisting his employability, he commented that “In Employment Interviews I was able to use my past experience such as conducting client interviews, researching legal documents and drafting legal contracts in Pro Bono for my job interviews. It was very useful in explaining the experience that I obtained and how it made me a stronger candidate for the role”.

Certainly the experience of this group of students in the Business Advice Clinic has shown how the quality Pro Bono experience offered by UWE can translate directly into the workplace upon finishing a course. But working in other Pro Bono activities is equally valuable in terms of employability. Cameron, who this year has headed up the Bristol Musicians Advice Service, is using his industry knowledge with an Events and Entertainment company, whilst Jason who ran the Anti-Death Penalty Group this past year is working in an in-house legal department.

Both Ryan and Gabriel advise all UWE students to do Pro Bono activity. Gabriel says that “Doing Pro Bono work opens up avenue in terms of people you meet and legal issues that you encounter, is great for your CV as well, and you get to meet different people from your class”, while Ryan commented specifically on the BAC: “I feel that all future students would benefit from participating in the clinic. It will build confidence, help develop essential skills for interviewing & advising, further understanding of the potential legal issues a business may face and provide exposure to a wide variety of businesses.”

The African Prisons Project: Student blog

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The following blog post is part of a series of blogs on the Pro Bono Offering at UWE Bristol: 

One of the many strands of activity students can undertakes as part of the UWE Pro Bono Unit is with the African Prisons Project, led by Kathy Brown. This summer several students received the opportunity to travel to Kenya and Uganda to work directly with the prisoners in the prisons. This has provided valuable life experience for both the prisoners and the students. Here, LLB student Nakita Hedges reflects on her thoughts and experiences:

When driving from the airport I could see the corruption which segregated the rich from the poor almost immediately. The rich drove past me on their way to their gated houses, whilst the poor begged at my window and lay on the edge of the street. This is something I felt so detached from as my experience of this type of lifestyle only seemed to appear behind a TV screen. For me to see this as an actual problem was a hit of harsh reality and I didn’t know whether to feel thankful for my privileged life or awful that these people will never experience anything like it.

A similar feeling of contradicting emotions hit me when arriving at the prisons for the first time. I was aware these people were separated from the world by society who had reformed their identity with a label. Nevertheless, despite their injustice, every single student I met kindly greeted me with a handshake and smile. They were polite and insisted on me taking their seats even if it meant they would be standing for the duration of the lesson. I found it difficult to look into their eyes and accept their gratitude without feeling guilty that our little time here meant so much to them.

Their determination to learn was honestly such an empowering feeling to witness. Their level of dedication to their studies was something I had not ever seen before. If they have been set a task, each person exceeds expectations. Regardless of their lack of materials, each student would return with masses of information which they would provide examples and apply to the real world. After a few weeks of being here, our students were beginning to think like lawyers. They were analytical of their own and our work, challenging everything that was presented to them. Whenever we had a debate I almost wanted to remove their note sheet because they didn’t need a piece of paper to dictate their thoughts, it came so naturally to them. I soon learnt that their positive mental outlook was derived from their motivation to learn and make a difference for themselves seeing as nobody else was going to do it for them.

We were constantly reminded that we were “improving [their] lives” and “reforming [their] dignity”, however, for me I never thought of our students as criminals and it saddened me that it was only our presence which allowed them to feel like normal human beings. I have never thought so highly of anyone before, and I am honoured to have spent my summer with these people. They are human beings trying to achieve the same dreams as me. I hope to reassure them that they have not been neglected by humanity and despite their circumstances are recognised as human beings and not by their label.

For more information on the African Prisons Project, please see here. To find out more about the UWE Pro Bono Unit please see here.

 

 

 

 

UWE Bristol moves into top 10 in UK for student satisfaction

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has climbed into the top 10 universities in the UK for student satisfaction.

Results from the latest National Student Survey (NSS) have revealed a record 89 per cent of UWE Bristol final year students were satisfied with their course overall, an increase of one percentage point on 2017.

The rise – the fourth consecutive annual increase recorded at the University – comes as the average overall satisfaction score across the higher education sector dipped from 84 per cent to 83 per cent.

UWE Bristol is now the highest ranked university for overall student satisfaction of all 18 institutions in the University Alliance, a group of British universities focused on technical and professional education.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor at UWE Bristol, said: “I’m absolutely delighted our overall score has increased to 89 per cent. This is outstanding in its own right and even more impressive in a year where the sector has declined to 83 per cent.

“This is a really tremendous achievement and one that has only been achieved by hard work, focus and a genuinely collaborative effort.”

The 2018 National Student Survey, carried out by the Office for Students and the UK higher education funding bodies, captured the views of more than 320,000 students

The annual survey sees students reflect on their time at university, offering their verdict on topics ranging from teaching and assessment to resources and academic support. It was introduced in 2005 to help inform the choices of prospective students and assist universities in enhancing student experience.

In this year’s results, UWE Bristol’s scores were above the UK average on 26 of the 27 survey questions. Some 56 programmes achieved a score of 92 per cent or above with 12 achieving 100 per cent: Architecture and Environmental EngineeringArchitecture and PlanningCriminology and SociologyDrawing and PrintEarly ChildhoodGeographyInformation Technology Management for BusinessIntegrated Wildlife ConservationInterior ArchitectureNursing (Children’s)Nursing (Learning Disabilities) and Robotics.

Find out more about UWE Bristol rankings and reputation.

PRO BONO: African Prisons Project – Life-changing experiences

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The Pro Bono Unit at UWE Bristol works with the African Prisons Project. The project sees UWE students assisting prisoners and prison warders during their Law studies. Kathy Brown has previously blogged about the project here.

Earlier this year, funding was achieved to allow a few students to undertake a summer internship in Kenya and Uganda for the APP. Below Kathy Brown reports on their experiences so far:

 Summer in Kenya … or not as the case may be!

On 2nd July I flew to Nairobi with three UWE law students as they ventured to start a ‘summer internship’ with APP.  Kelly, George and Lindsay were the first cohort of volunteers with Rad and Nakita arriving 18th July. Our first impressions after a 90 minute visa queue at midnight is that it’s cold, we are being choked by diesel and we are on a six lane highway heading into the centre of Nairobi!

It’s 4th July before we make our way to our first prison – Kamiti High Security Men’s prison (once notorious for beatings, excessive overcrowding and a prison officers resisted being posted to). 

We are met by a very different experience.  There’s no mistaking the blue and white stripe heavy cotton uniforms with bright yellow nylon sweaters to rage off the ‘winter’ cold but apart from that this prison is open – and inmates move around en masse with no obvious security. 

We are taken to the ‘Academy’ a shabbily constructed and maintained two storey block with partitioned walls to segregate English from Maths classes and History from Biology. 

Upstairs along the rickety iron stairway constructed by the students themselves is the preserve of the law students and others.  We make our introductions, which we have been warned are important and lengthy.  Two hours later it feels joyous and riotous. 

We’ve all been invited to Wilson’s anticipated High Court hearing on the 18th July following his legal challenge of the unconstitutionality of the Kenyan death penalty … watch this space.

Kelly Eastham attended the High Court to hear that Wilson’s death penalty for aggravated burglary 20 years ago is unconstitutional – he will be re-sentenced next week; this highly intellectual and learned undergraduate law student is likely to be released in view of his term served.  Sadly he has no family.  Kelly was his family today and visited him in the holding cell where he was un-cuffed to meet her.  Choking back the tears she offered her support.  Life-changing stuff.

 

 

Honorary degree awarded to Alderman Timothy Hailes, JP

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UWE Bristol awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws to Alderman and Sheriff of the City of London, Timothy Hailes, JP, in recognition of his contribution to the legal profession and to public service.

The honorary degree was conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Business and Law at Bristol Cathedral on Monday 16 July at 10.30.

Tim is the current Aldermanic Sheriff of The City of London – holding an office that dates back to Anglo Saxon times and a pre-requisite to becoming Lord Mayor of the City of London; being established around 700AD. He became Sheriff at the age of 49. He is also a Managing Director and Associate General Counsel in the Legal Department of JPMorgan Chase & Co, which he joined as an Associate in 1999. Prior to joining JPMorgan he trained and qualified as a Solicitor, practising in law firms from 1993-1999 with a particular specialism in derivatives, securities and international capital markets.

Tim was educated at Bristol Grammar School, read a BA (Hons) degree in Medieval and Early Modern History at Kings College London where he was also President of the Students Union (1988-89), and then returned to Bristol to undertake his professional qualifications in law at UWE from 1991-93. He still considers himself a proud Bristol boy!

He was elected Alderman for the Ward of Bassishaw in the City of London in May 2013 having been appointed and sworn to the magistracy in the prior January. In 2017 he was appointed a Member of the Order of St John by HM The Queen.

In May 2014 he was named In House UK Finance Lawyer of the Year, was recognised as European Financial Services Regulatory Lawyer of the Year in May 2017 and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to the UK In House Legal Profession in December 2017. He is widely acknowledged as one of the leading banking, financial services and regulatory lawyers in the country and has represented the industry to governments, regulators and supranational organisations all over the world.

Congratulations Tim!

Give us your feedback on the Bristol Law School

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As part of an exciting new research project, the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School are looking to gather opinions on their new building.

Opened in April 2017, Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School is a flagship space to attract international and home students, facilitate links with businesses, and provide collaborative spaces for staff to work together.

Stride Treglown (the building architects), ISG (building contractors) and Godfrey Syrett (furniture suppliers) and UWE Bristol Business School are collaborating on this research project to explore personal, emotional and sensory user experiences of the building through the use of social media and photography.

They want to hear from staff, students and visitors on how they have used the building.  Over the next year, they are asking everyone to take photos to show how they are using the building and how they feel about the building.

Participants can then post their pictures on Instagram using #myUWEBBSview or you can email your pictures and comments to myUWEBBSview@uwe.ac.uk

The research project is led by Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at UWE Bristol.

Take a look at the project website for more details.

Institute of Directors award for Bristol Law School Executive Dean

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Donna Whitehead, Executive Dean of UWE Bristol’s Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School, was named New Director of the Year at the 2018 IoD South West awards.

Leading a team of nearly 300 staff and more than 6,000 students, Donna manages a budget of £55 million. She also leads the work on enterprise across the University. In winning the inaugural New Director award, she was singled out for achieving transformational change for the organisation in an impressively short period of time.

Donna said: “I am delighted to win this award. I’m incredibly proud to lead the Faculty, and enjoy and value working with all our talented staff. This award reflects their great work.”

A total of 14 directors from across the region were shortlisted for the awards, presented yesterday at a ceremony near Exeter. The awards were sponsored by accountants Bishop Fleming, which has offices throughout the South West. Guest speaker was Roy Kinnear, COO of South West-based airline Flybe.

Nick Sturge, South West chair of the IoD, said: “The South West has a well-deserved reputation for creativity, leadership and entrepreneurship. The diversity of awards this year served to demonstrate just this. We had a record number of entries this year so to be even shortlisted was an achievement. I want to congratulate not just our winners but our runners up too.”

All the winners will now go forward for a chance to represent the South West at the IoD National Director of the Year Awards in the autumn.

Pro Bono works: Network For Creative Enterprise

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The second blog in our series on Pro Bono: 

The Business Advice Clinic, one of UWE’s Pro Bono initiative, has been providing legal assistance to the members of the Network for Creative Enterprise over the past academic year. The NFCE is a collaboration between the Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, Knowle West Media Centre, Spike Island, and The Guild based in Bath. UWE is also a partner in the Network. In each of the centres, residents have the opportunity to join the NFCE to receive a mixture of support to turn their ideas into economically sustainable businesses, including free work space and a package of business development support. As part of that support, residents from the hubs are able to make appointments with Business Advice Clinic students, supervised by Marcus Keppel-Palmer, Director of Pro Bono.

Marcus said: “the businesses at NFCE are those working in the creative and cultural arena, often at the very outset of their business life, and so many of the questions are around intellectual property protection, putting together terms and conditions of business, and data protection, although we have been asked about all kinds of matters, including regulations affecting drones!”. Clinics have been held at the Watershed, Spike Island and Knowle West Media Centre with plans to venture over to Bath underway. Each client has a one-hour appointment with students taking instructions, undertaking any research and providing assistance as a follow-up.

One of the students on the team, Lucie Wickens said: “these regular drop-in sessions at Spike Island, Watershed, The Guild and Knowle West Media Centre have provided students with excellent exposure of working with clients, and has assisted in the development of start-up businesses (many of which are UWE graduates) across Bristol and Bath. The work I have undertaken on the Business Advice Clinic, through the Network for Creative Enterprise has been invaluable as a discussion point in interviews, and in building my confidence of working with clients.”

Nearly 20 of the residents have so far taken advantage of the sessions. These residents have reported that the advice and the access to advice has been invaluable. One resident said: “Thank you so much for all the support and advice from you and your team. The conversations and the draft contracts you have drawn up have been an invaluable contribution to our development. Without this free service offered through the Network for Creative Enterprise we would have struggled to access let alone pay for legal advice and support of this kind.”

Rachael Burton, one of the NFCE Producers based at the Pervasive Media Studio, said: “It’s been great to work with Bristol Business and Law School at UWE through the legal advice clinics run by Marcus and his students. Having access to free legal advice in a familiar setting has been really valuable to the artists and small creative businesses we are supporting through Network for Creative Enterprise. We look forward to developing this ongoing relationship.”