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The Law Ambassador Programme – A Leeds Law School Initiative

The Law Ambassador Programme is a Leeds Pro Bono Centre project which partners local secondary schools with law firms. Facilitated by BPP staff and students, who are key in delivering the project, 6th Formers and lawyers work together on a range of legal activities and challenges during Year 12 and 13.  The project engages the same young people throughout the 2 years and offers a continuing school/law firm partnership, designed to have an enduring impact on its participants, to teach them about the law and provide a unique insight into studying law at university and working in the legal field.  The project also enables the Law Ambassadors to develop many of the key skills that firms look for in their lawyers.

In its inaugural year, the Law Ambassador Programme launched with 3 schools and their partner firms: Tadcaster Grammar School and Addleshaw Goddard Solicitors; Guiseley Secondary School and Eversheds-Sutherland Solicitors; Lawnswood Secondary School and Squire Patton Boggs.

Launch events were hosted by each law firm, where partners from the firms and the Head of BPP’s Leeds Law School welcomed the Law Ambassadors, their parents and teachers, as well as BPP staff and students. These events were a fantastic way for everyone to meet and get to know one another and to find out more about the project.  In addition to this, every law ambassador student was assigned a legal mentor from their partner law firm, who they had the chance to meet at the launch.

The mentors’ role is to guide the Law Ambassadors through the 2-year programme, attend events and support the pupils as they learn more about the law and the legal profession. The project enables law firms and their staff to make a long-term commitment to pro bono.  In this way, the project can have just as much impact on the legal professionals as it does on the young people participating in the programme.

“I was keen to get involved in the Law Ambassador Programme as I saw it as an exciting opportunity to work with the aspiring young lawyers of the future with a view to hopefully passing on any wisdom I have gained from my transition from a student to a practising lawyer and helping the students develop their skillset in parallel.”

Mentor, Eversheds-Sutherland Solicitors

The 3 schools and firms have now completed their first year of the Law Ambassador Programme, which included Careers Talks, Mock Trial Competitions and the highlight of the project so far has to be the Law Ambassadors’ ‘Day at Court’. In addition to observing a variety of high profile Crown Court Hearings, the Usher delivered a talk and guided tour of the Courtroom, and one of the Judges who noticed the pupils sitting in the public gallery invited them to come and discuss the law and their future career goals with him! He also offered the pupils lots of useful advice about how to improve their chances of getting into the legal profession and about studying law after school.

“The Law Ambassador Programme is a wonderful opportunity. I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the programme and it has made me even more certain about wanting to pursue law as a future career.  I particularly enjoyed participating in the mock trial – getting to speak to law students was extremely insightful and has helped me to decide the particular path I wish to take.  I am looking forward to what is to come next year and learning more”.

Rosie Howarth, Student at Guiseley Secondary School                                                       

The second year of the programme will begin in September 2018, where BPP’s Streetlaw project takes a leading role in the activities. In June 2019, the first group of Law Ambassadors will ‘graduate’ from the programme and will be invited to BPP for a celebratory event with their legal mentors.

Due to the success of the Law Ambassador Programme, several more schools and law firms are interested in launching the project next academic year in Leeds, and Eversheds are interested in rolling the scheme out nationally.

The Pro Bono Centre is delighted with the way that the first year of this trailblazing project has worked, the relationships that have been forged between BPP, the firms and schools, and this innovative way of engaging young people in the law. We were thrilled when the achievements and a positive impact of the Law Ambassador Programme were recognised by LawWorks, who shortlisted the project for an award in the Best New Project Category.

If you would like to find out more about the Law Ambassador Programme or to get involved in the project in any way, please contact Kate Lennie, Schools Project Coordinator in Leeds, at katelennie@bpp.com

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