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that have been issued to people who are so undeserving but are now on death row for crimes not proportionate to such an outdated form of punishment.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 🌍✈️

 

 

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.”

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.

 

 

Pro Bono – The African Prisons Project

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A new initiative, started this academic year by the UWE Pro Bono Unit, has been our link up with the African Prisons Project.  Through this our law students work remotely assisting prisoners and warders in Uganda and Kenya. Kathy Brown explains more in this blog:

Following a volunteer trip by Kathy Brown to teach law in Kenyan prisons in December 2016, a new UWE pro bono activity was created.  Her role in Kenya was to support Kenyan law tutors employed by a UK based charity called African Prisons Project (APP) to teach law to APP sponsored University of London (UOL) external LLB students.  She described the experience as life affirming but realised her position as a law lecturer at UWE put her in a position to share her access to legal resources with the Kenyan (and Ugandan) prison LLB community.  She realised too that this was something she should take to and share with her own LLB students.

In September 2017, supported by her FBL Librarian colleague Julie Hamley and Bristol Law School colleague, Dr Thomas Webber she launched  APP.  Together with the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School lead for pro bono, Marcus Keppel-Palmer. They agreed to principally target Level 1 students, filling a gap in terms of the pro bono activities offered to new students.  Kathy’s other priority was to make the activity as inclusive as possible – and this has become central to the pro bono activity. Selection for the activity was based on a willingness to try rather than academic excellence or pre-existing skills.

The focus of the activity was to provide APP LLB tutors and students with all the materials they would otherwise be able to access for themselves were they based at a university.  In return, students would be able to develop their own legal research skills as well as develop soft skills such as confidence building, working with different year groups and interacting with international tutor colleagues. In addition, students could make the project they wanted it to be, responding to the needs of APP tutors and adapting their roles on the basis of their experience as law students.

Nine months on the main objectives of the activity have been met. UWE students have been able to talk about the outcomes of their learning and development through the UWE Student Research conference and the UWE (staff) Learning and Teaching Conference.

In terms of their direct involvement and engagement with the APP students in Kenya and Uganda, they’ve shared in the excitement of APP’s first LLB graduation ceremony in Luzira Men’s prison in Uganda (live streaming). Consistent with the activity’s inclusive values, five UWE students from three year groups have been given the opportunity to work in three Kenyan prisons during July and August.

To find out more about the APP please click here https://africanprisons.org/

Top Patent Attorney Firm Is Latest To Join UWE’s Business Advice Clinic

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The next blog post in our series on Pro-bono. Written by Marcus Keppel-Palmer:

Leading Patent and Trade Mark firm, EIP has signed up to be mentors for UWE’s pro bono initiative the Business Advice Clinic. Attorneys from EIP’s office in Bath will assist UWE students working in the Business Advice Clinic and UWE IP supervisor Gill Ford. The Business Advice Clinic provides advice to start-up businesses across a range of legal and business topics, such as businesses based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, the LaunchSpace incubator and the Network for Creative Industries.

Students take the lead in researching and presenting advice, whilst the mentors and supervisors provide support and ensure the advice is reflective of current practice. Gill Ford said: “IP is very important to start-up businesses and the Business Advice Clinic has received a range of queries from those involving confidential information to patent applications. Students value the opportunity to put their classroom knowledge to real world use.”

Matt Lawman from EIP said: “EIP is delighted to be joining UWE’s Business Advice Clinic initiative. Intellectual Property is widely misunderstood, yet is an essential consideration for many start-up businesses.  And, it is often true that the time when a business needs the advice the most is in the early stage when they can afford it the least.  So, the service provided by The Business Advice Clinic will prove invaluable for many business. EIP specialises in helping start-ups formulate an IP strategy and we love seeing clients use their IP to prosper and grow. We very much look forward to working with Marcus, Gill and the UWE students!”

EIP is an award-winning firm with offices in the UK, US and Germany giving specialist IP advice on patents, trademarks, designs and copyright. In 2018 EIP was named “UK Patent and Trademark Attorney Firm of the Year for Patent Litigation”.  Marcus Keppel-Palmer, Director of the Business Advice Clinic, said: “We are delighted to welcome EIP as a mentor to the UWE Business Advice Clinic. We are very grateful for the time and assistance the firm is prepared to commit on a pro bono basis to the Clinic and to the students. We look forward to increasing opportunities with a prestigious international firm.”

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.”

 

Pro bono works

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In a series of blog posts Associate Head of Pro Bono, Marcus Keppel-Palmer will be sharing with us why Pro Bono at UWE Bristol works. In this first post Marcus shares research shared at the UWE Learning & Teaching Conference about the similarities between Law students and Journalism students:

Pro Bono gives students an opportunity to develop their professional identity as lawyers, allowing them to develop skills, confidence, ethics and professionalism outside the classroom.  I explored this at the UWE Learning & Teaching Conference jointly with Sally Reardon (UWE Journalism), who also found that journalists form their professional identity away from the gaze and strictures of assessment.

Students come to University with pre-formed views as to what Journalism and Lawyering is, views that are mainly formed by media images, often casting these characters as the hero of the story. Typical depictions of lawyers and lawyering can be found in To Kill A Mockingbird, The Rainmaker, and other John Grisham stories, whilst crusading journalists are depicted in films such as All The Presidents Men and The Post.

However, when they start to study, students are shocked that the reality of study is at odds with these romanticised images. Sally and I argued that students needed to see these professions in the round, creating an individual professional identity, and through that a coherent learning community. Professional Identity is the more than simply ethics and professionalism; it is the way a lawyer understands his or her role relative to all of the stakeholders in the legal system, including clients, courts, opposing parties and counsel, the firm and the legal system or society as a whole. Journalists of course play a valuable role within the courts too, but of course have a wider set of stakeholders and wider social impact to engage with.

In order to develop professional identity, students need opportunities to experience the complex interlay of professional behaviours, skills, ethics, and the relationships, whilst using their doctrinal knowledge. For law students and journalists that often requires participation in extra-curricular activities. Sally spoke about the Global News Relay, an annual event whereby UWE journalists collaborate with students from other countries around the world to compile a snapshot news programme across time zones and continents in one day. I spoke of the professional identity law students forge through participation in various strands of pro bono, such as the welfare benefits advice service, the Business Advice Clinic, and the Bristol Music Advice Service.

To find out more about the pro bono offering at UWE Bristol please see here.

Free seminar: Community asset transfers: legal and practical issues

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The UWE Bristol Pro Bono Unit, in conjunction with The Old Library, will be holding a free seminar on Thursday 19 April from 6pm for anyone who would like to find out more about the legal and practical side of community asset transfer.

A Community Asset Transfer involves a charity or not-for-profit organisation taking a lease or licence of council owned premises to run and manage those premises.

The purpose is to generate social, economic or environmental benefits for local people.  Examples include community centres, libraries and playgrounds.

If you’d like more information or to register please see here.

IPO Develops New Tools For Universities

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Marcus Keppel-Palmer, the Associate Head for the Faculty of Business and Law for Pro Bono, was one of the panel members working with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) developing a new range of Intellectual Property (IP) resources for use in Schools, Universities, and businesses.

The new suite of resources aim to develop a greater understanding on on IP with students and how IP impacts on their future careers.

The resources known as IP Tutor Plus were launched on January 9th 2018.

IP Tutor and IP Tutor Plus

The IP Tutor tools, developed by the IPO, CIPA, CiTMA, lecturers and industry professionals, provides information on IP.

IP Tutor Plus is a resource for university lecturers to deliver IP lectures. There are four modules; creative, humanities, STEM and law, business and accounting subject areas.

IP for Research

Created for PhD students and researchers to develop a greater understanding of how IP can maximise the impact of their research.

IP management tools

The Intellectual Asset Management Guide for Universities and Lambert Toolkit support the setting of IP strategies within universities, and the management of effective collaborations between universities and businesses.

Resources for further education

Before students reach university, the Future Innovators Toolkit provides level 3 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers with the resources they need to introduce IP at any point in the curriculum.

More details can be found here.

Bristol Law School 2017 Round Up

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As 2017 comes to a close we want to share with you some of our highlights from the past year:

Back in January we launched our new Research Centres and groups.

In February, we helped alumnus Jeremiah Daliel’s launch his first book, inspired by his real life experiences.

Back in March, our Pro Bono team helped young entrepreneurs to open a new recording studio.

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Our pro bono team helping young entrepreneurs

Also in March we hosted a Distinguished Professorial Address with Professor Michael Dougan titled “The UK outwith the EU and the EU without the UK’”

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Professor Michael Dougan gives a Distinguished Professorial Address

In April, we moved into our new £55 million building  which is now home to the Bristol Law School and the Bristol Business School.

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The Bristol Business School, home to the Bristol Law School and Bristol Business School

We invited our alumni to be some of the first to visit the building at a networking event in May.

In May we also shared news of a successful year for the Bristol Law School and Bristol Business Pro Bono Business Advice Clinic.

One of our Bristol Law School alumni was elected Sheriff of the City and Corporation of London in July.

Tim Hailes
Tim Hailes, Sheriff of the City and Corporation of London

Over the summer we shared news that UWE Bristol had a third rise in student satisfaction and that we moved three places up the Times Good University Guide.

Also over the summer, Dr Zainab Kahn visited Amman, Jordan to work with partnership institutions to engage international students in postgraduate roles here at UWE.

Amman Jordan trip
Dr Zainab Kahn in Jordan

In October, a Bristol Law School student won Student of the Year at the Bristol Law Society Awards. The LiP Service team, made up of Bristol Law School, University of Law and University of Bristol students won team of the year.

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Winners at the Bristol Law Society Awards

In November, as part of national pro bono week, we shared a roundup of all the great work pro bono work we do at the Bristol Law School.

Also in November, Financial Crime expert, Professor Nic Ryder provided a commentary on the Paradise Papers.

To see more of our highlights from 2017 visit our blog. Roll on 2018!