Cheshire East Council

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Back to school

Solicitors in Local Government has launched a Local Lawyers in Schools Initiative with the Citizenship Foundation. Guy Goodman encourages local government lawyers to get involved.

During my year as Chair of SLG I had my eyes opened to the importance of pro bono and corporate responsibility work and the fact that we in local government don’t do enough of it.

As a result SLG has formed two partnerships. One is with LawWorks, the Solicitors Pro Bono Group, which seeks to promote and publicise pro bono opportunities to local government practitioners. We have also been involved in some myth busting through our magazine, Noter Up, particularly around conflicts of interests by explaining the wide variety of opportunities available via LawWorks.

The second partnership is with the Citizenship Foundation to deliver a SLG version of their Local Lawyers in Schools initiative. We have secured three-year funding from the Local Government Legal Society Trust Fund for three SLG sites in England and Wales. The golden rule with our sites is that more than one local authority has to be involved.

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We currently have two sites signed up and raring to go in this school year.  The first site is in Yorkshire and led by Lisa Dixon, Legal Services Manager at Scarborough Borough Council. Lisa and colleagues at Scarborough have experience of Local Lawyers in Schools having taken part last year but have now joined forces with North Yorkshire County Council, Ryedale District Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The details of the partnering school are being confirmed and training will take place shortly.

The second site is Leicestershire, which I am leading joined by colleagues from Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council, Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, Charnwood Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Council.  Our school is New College Leicester which has had a troubled history, is located in one of Leicester’s poorer outer estates but which is gradually improving. Our training will take place on Tuesday 21 September 2010 with sessions due to start this term.

There has been much interest in establishing the third site but no firm proposal as yet – and there is still plenty of time to get a site up and running this school year. If you are interested please just contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – I would be delighted to hear from you.

In case you don’t know what Local Lawyers in Schools is all about read on.

In brief you need a group of about ten lawyers to do six workshops in the school year to KS4 pupils as part of the Citizenship Curriculum. The topics that have been prepared professionally by the Citizenship Foundation for which we get all the teaching materials are:

  • Learning about the Law
  • Employment Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Human Rights
  • Youth Justice
  • Police Powers
  • Discrimination
  • Intellectual Property & Downloading Music
  • Housing Law
  • Family Law.

A minimum of five volunteers is needed for each session. Involvement in the initiative attracts CPD.

In order to host a site someone needs to volunteer to co-ordinate colleagues and make the arrangements with your chosen school. As local government lawyers you should have enough contacts to find an appropriate school in a socially deprived area.

We are hoping that as the three years go by existing sites will take on the funding themselves (about £500 for the year which is £50 each for ten volunteers for nine unaccredited CPD hours) so that other sites can be developed.

The benefits, as well as the CPD, include refining your communication skills (particularly listening) and presentation skills, and giving something back to the community. So what’s your excuse for not getting involved?

Guy Goodman was chair of SLG (www.slgov.org.uk) in 2009/10.

 

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