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Debating Differences: Write up of session 3

By Louise Timmons, 3rd year Criminology and Criminal Justice student

Prior to the third session of the ‘Debating Differences’ scheme in partnership with HMP Kirkham, as per the last two sessions, we were given the topic of the debate a week in advance and had to prepare arguments for both sides of the argument. This week’s topic was ‘Should controlled substances be legalised in England and Wales?’ Although on first instance, I disagreed with the idea of all controlled substances being made legal, after being put on the team arguing for controlled substances to be made legal, my perceptions changed with some good arguments put forward and by the end of the debate I wasn’t sure on my opinion anymore; showing just how influential these debates and whole experience has been.

The progression in confidence over the last three sessions is very clear and shows how comfortable everyone involved has become with each other. As someone who has never taken part in any debates before, I found that at first I was quite out my comfort zone speaking in front of strangers, especially those who I would not usually come into contact with on a daily basis. However, I have learnt so much and enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend it to anyone as sometimes people are so caught up in stereotypical perceptions of prisoners, when in fact they are just ordinary individuals like you and me that made a mistake.

Unfortunately, we only have one more session left but I am looking forward to it nonetheless. One thing I’m sure everyone who has been involved will agree on is that each session has been better with more heated debates and more developed arguments and responses, and the teamwork between students from UCLAN and the men in Kirkham has been phenomenal and has just come naturally, breaking down any boundaries that could’ve existed beforehand.

This has been an amazing experience in which I am grateful for being chosen to take part in as it really does make you think outside the box and think more into things than you usually would. I feel this has been a very positive way to end my 3 years at university and one I will remember for years to come.

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Association of Law Teachers (ALT) conference: Diversity & Innovation

26 – 27 March 2018 Keele University

On an unseasonably sunny Sunday afternoon in late March, I travelled to my first ALT conference at Keele University with my colleague Dr Michael Doherty with a feeling of both excitement and trepidation. I had of course been to and spoken at many conferences over the years in my previous role as a solicitor, but speaking at the ALT conference was somehow different. More on why later.

The conference themes of diversity & innovation appealed to my own career narrative, firstly, as a first generation law student all those years ago and now as an academic as I hear student stories and reflect on how little has changed for some students in overcoming the barriers they face to enter a profession that is not representative of the society it serves. The innovation theme of the conference resonated with my experience in practice in working to create and introduce better solutions for clients through new ideas and innovation.

Shared purpose and sense of community

My trepidation came from not knowing what to expect from the conference, but as with many things in life what we think is not often the reality and that was proven as soon as Michael and I and met up with our colleagues’ Dr Kartina Choong and Linda Chadderton for dinner.

At dinner, it was good to meet other academics from the UK and beyond and hear of their commitment to supporting and developing the next generation of professionals and I felt at ease and part of a strong community of fellow academics connected by a shared purpose and went to bed looking forward to day 1.

Day 1

ALT Conference 1

After a welcome, introduction and keynote I sat in the audience to hear the first talk of the conference from Michael Doherty on “Communicating Legal Rights and Responsibilities through Visual Learning” explaining how he had worked with a UCLan graphic design student to create a visual document for students on their rights & responsibilities as tenants. The talk was well received and his visual document won the Stan Marsh prize for the best poster of the conference.

The lunchtime keynote saw Richard Susskind deliver his vision of the future of lawyers, leaving the audience with plenty to discuss for the rest of the first day and as I reflected on my first day at an ALT conference the feelings I felt most were hope & opportunity for the next generation. There is no doubt that technology is already transforming the practice of law, yet as a profession, law is still struggling with fundamental issues around equality and access and the hope & opportunity I felt was that law students can help shape both innovation and equality now and in the future.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast, my colleague Kartina and I presented “Do it but don’t get caught? Exploring social media and Professionalism of Law Students” to an audience from the UK and abroad as we examined the parallels and differences to regulating social media for law and medical students. It was fantastic to present with such a well-respected academic as Kartina and we received some interesting questions from the audience and discussions continued throughout the day.

ALT Conference 2

My 2nd ALT presentation was a solo effort this time and was entitled “Building a bridge. Exploring career mentoring and social capital in career transition” and looked at the potential role a career mentoring programme could have in helping law students transition into professional practice. It was great to engage with the audience, as their experiences and questions opened up avenues for further work in this area and collaboration after the conference, something I am keen to explore.

The conference provided a wide range of presentations over the two days and in particular, I enjoyed a paper by Gareth Bramley from Sheffield University on using technology to enhance student and staff experience of feedback and it certainly gave me food for thought on how I give feedback. Another talk I enjoyed was focused on mindfulness in legal education. As someone who has practised mindfulness for a number of years, both in legal practice and as an academic, it was good to hear insights from Professor Katerina Lewinbuk from South Texas University and Anthony Cullen and Lughaidh Kerin from Middlesex University on how they had approached incorporating mindfulness into the curriculum.

I started the conference with feelings of excitement and trepidation and by the end, those feelings had been replaced with a sense of belonging and optimism.  By attending and presenting, I felt part of an academic community committed to the next generation of professionals and my optimism stems from a sense that although the legal profession is changing rapidly through technology this provides huge opportunities for legal professionals, academics and students to work together to help shape the future. Watch this space.

Simon Price is a Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Employability at Lancashire Law School and is part of the school’s employability team.

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‘Debating Differences’

By Su Brass, Third year Criminology and Criminal Justice student, Lancashire Law School, UCLan.

This week saw the second session of the ‘Debating Differences’ scheme run in partnership between HMP Kirkham and UCLan. The focus of the enterprise is to bring together those of differing circumstances to learn together, improve social skills and debate current issues in a structured setting. The debate location was the visitors room of HMP Kirkham and all involved in the scheme volunteered to partake.

The topic for debate this week was ‘Does the internet do more harm than good?’- a very thought provoking and current issue. As with the first session, students and prisoners were given preparation work to complete surrounding the mains points of the topic a week prior.

On the day participants were split into equal teams with a mix of prisoners and students on each side, one arguing in agreement that the internet does more harm and the other opposing this. All team members were encouraged to share in the process of formulating points of note as well as delivering these points within the debate setting. This proved a great opportunity for improvement of skills such as public speaking and confidence. All involved in this week’s debate articulated themselves well and developed their points to a high standard resulting in coherent and convincing arguments from both sides.

The task of choosing the winning team fell to Nazneen Asmal from the university along with a member of the prison staff who observed the process and discussed their findings. I’m convinced it must have been very difficult to choose a winner as both teams did incredibly well, but this week team A were awarded the victory- those proposing the internet does more harm than good.

Arguments, in brief, from team A included the dangers of the dark web and the fact the internet is another platform for crime. In addition, this team considered the argument it could be isolating for those who become too involved and for those who not have access to it at all. Yes, it is great for connecting with those across the world however, it could be argued that the ease of technology means we do not connect with those directly around us as much as we should. Arguments put forward by team B centred around the usefulness of the internet in terms of connecting people as well as access to a wealth of information at the touch of a button. Furthermore, businesses have another area in which to promote and increase their presence and therefore have further scope for potential sales.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to chair the team for one side of the debate this week, which gave me the opportunity to not only get involved in structuring arguments but also to deliver introductory and closing remarks. From this position I observed both students and prisoners articulating themselves well and delivering fantastic points. At times if not for prior knowledge, it would be difficult to establish who were the students and who were the prisoners- it was simply a group of people engaging in a healthy debate in an inclusive environment.

Personally, I think this opportunity is fantastic for breaking down barriers and challenging preconceptions as well as rehumanising offenders. Even as an individual who is very open-minded when it comes to those who transgress the law I found myself surprised as to how personable and knowledgeable the men were. In addition to this, it was clear how much effort the prisoners put in both prior and during the debate which was great to see. As a student I found this to be a fantastic opportunity which I feel very lucky to be able to get involved with. I found the process to be eye-opening and thought provoking and I am very much looking forward to the next session as I am sure my peers are.

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Developing tomorrow’s lawyers today

Lancashire Law School launches an exciting new partnership with Harrison Drury solicitors

On a cold and windy evening in March, Lancashire Law School and leading North West law firm Harrison Drury launched their new exciting partnership Young Leaders in Law at the law firm’s Preston office.

The partnership was created to give students opportunities to meet professionals, find out more about what it was like to work in a law firm, build a professional network and develop key employability skills. The evening started with some excellent networking training from Harrison Drury followed by an evening of networking and chances to put into practice what had been learned. Feedback from students and Harrison Drury professionals after the event was very positive, so I asked a couple of law students who attended to explain what they thought of the evening.

Sabba Shah – 2nd-year MLaw student

My future aspiration is to work as an advocate through attaining higher rights of audience, post qualification as a solicitor. With my main interests in the fields of business and technology, I seek to become as commercially aware and equipped as possible during my studies, in advance of entering the legal profession.

Attending the Young Leaders in Law Network at Harrison Drury was my first experience of professional mingling within the walls of a law firm, as opposed to events in other external venues. The atmosphere facilitated really interesting conversations (as opposed to the oftentimes generic or short answers hastily imparted during careers fairs), wherein I received direct insight into the various seats presently being undertaken by trainees. Also discussing the impact of current events on areas of law, such as the implications of Brexit on trademarks and how this will likely affect the corporate department, brought to life the current theory being taught in lectures in terms of practical applications.

Speaking with different trainees, solicitors, the marketing manager and also HR administrator was invaluable, particularly as the advice given was without pretence. For instance, networking techniques were advised before the opportunity to implement them that very evening, of which one focused on how to exit an exchange in order to engage with more potential connections. This was hugely beneficial and I have since utilised these skills with great success, hence I look forward to learning more from the next YLLN meeting.

Luke Holden – final year LLB Student

I recently volunteered to take part in the Young Leaders Network primarily to enhance my networking abilities and construct professional contacts for the future. Attending the networking event at Harrison Drury was daunting at first. A lack of networking experience meant that I had to exercise strong communicative skills and illustrate my confidence.

Once proceedings were underway, I felt a sense of relief as the team at Harrison Drury were exceptionally friendly and informative. I was able to speak to a large breadth of professionals from each department, enabling me to gain an insight into all aspects of a law firm. In addition to this, I was pleasantly informed on the social aspects of a law firm and how it is not without its fun and friendships.

The networking event at Harrison Drury was an excellent platform to build confidence in my communicative qualities which will benefit me at future networking events. I also obtained a fundamental insight into the vast differentiation in pathways to becoming a solicitor. The trainees had to maintain intensive dedication and commitment despite various challenges they faced. This has motivated me to continue in building my professional personality and remain committed to succeeding as a solicitor.

Interested in attending a Young Leaders in Law event?

If you are a Lancashire law student and want to get involved in one of the upcoming Young Leaders in Law events please send an e-mail to LLScareers@uclan.ac.uk expressing your interest in attending together with the date you would like to attend (see below).

  • Tuesday 25th May 2018 – 5.30 -7.30pm
  • Tuesday 25th September 2018 – 5.30-7.30pm
  • Tuesday 20th November 2018 – 5.30 – 7.30pm

Thank you to everyone from Harrison Drury who attended the first event and helped make the evening a big success and of course, thanks to the students who overcame their nerves and took part, I hope you all found it worthwhile and see you at future events.

Simon Price is a Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Employability at Lancashire Law School and is part of the school’s employability team.

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UCLan Cyprus Trip – Willem C. Vis International Arbitration Moot Competition Blog – Victoria Wells

“Two goddesses now must Cyprus adore; The Muses are ten, and the Graces are four; Stella’s wit is so charming, so sweet her fair face, She shines a new Venus, a Muse, and a Grace.” Callimachus

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My absolute delight at being chosen to take part in the Willem C. Vis Moot competition was quickly matched by our arrival in Cyprus. A beautiful Island, occupied by wonderful people, Cyprus gave our team the very best environment to absorb our International Arbitration training and practice our mooting skills against the UCLan Cyprus sister team.

Our daily commute from Larnaca to the impressive UCLAN University campus in Pyla gave us chance to soak up the gorgeous Mediterranean Spring countryside and indulge in some fascinating local political history (courtesy of our resident UN and Human Rights expert Glen Woodroffe). The UN buffer zone, a stone’s throw from the University campus, was a reminder that the island still lies at the heart of an ongoing geopolitical malaise.

Our evenings were filled with wonderful company, fabulous regional cuisine and an evening aperitif (or two). This oiled the wheels of our creativity and we were often found in deep International Contract Law debate, until the early hours. Our tutors, Susan Fletcher and Glen Woodroffe, provided the perfect guidance and mentoring to keep us on track in our legal strategy and style.

The Annual Island Law Society ball in Nicosia also coincided with our stay and the Law Staff and Students organised our invitations. We all attended, looking striking in our cocktail gowns and lounge suits. The event was not only a wonderful networking opportunity but also provided a fascinating lecture from the Attorney General of Cyprus. The lecture discussed various factor exacerbating political and economic corruption. As Law students, this provided a useful insight into the potential role of the legal profession as both gatekeepers and facilitators of this toxic aspect of public life.

The final moot between UCLAN Preston and Cyprus was an exciting morning. Our Arbitrators were local distinguished legal professionals, who added a real flavour of expertise and professionalism to the event. Oralists from both Preston and Cyprus gave great performances and did themselves proud, but most importantly we all gained a huge amount of learning and mooting experience.

P1100983Our stay on the Island was coming to an end, but not before we visited Limassol and the town centre offices of a prominent Island Law firm. Limassol was also hosting the yearly Carnival, an event that can be traced back to Hellenistic times and that has endured, as a Christian Pre-lent festival, celebrating hope and optimism. The exuberance, costumes and music would match any Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras and our wonderful lecturer, Susan Fletcher, briefed and accompanied us so we were well prepared for the celebrations, in our oversized glasses and Masquerade masks.

Not a moment of our time was squandered, and even as we made our way back to Paphos airport, we managed to take in the sights of hundreds of local wild cats, a beautifully restored 18th Century mosque, wild pink flamingos and 2000-year-old Greek tombs.A final meal at a wonderful seafood restaurant overlooking the port of Pathos, rounded off perfectly, one of the most enjoyable and significant learning events of my life!

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Attacking Liberal Values in the USA and the UK: are Entrenched Constitutions a Suicide Pact with ISIL?

In March I attended a conference of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy at Barry University Law School in Orlando, Florida. There, I presented a paper comparing the UK’s constitutional responses to terrorism with those of America’s.

As most students of Public Law will know, the UK doesn’t have a written constitution. More appropriately, the UK’s constitution is written ie it is comprised of a multitude of written sources such as Acts of Parliament, case law, international treaties etc, it’s just not codified, meaning they aren’t all in one document. In contrast, the Constitution of the United States, dating from 1787, is written and codified. It is also ‘entrenched’ meaning it is very difficult to amend. Article V requires, for example, 3/4 of states of the United States to approve an amendment. Hence, the ongoing issue about failures to curb gun ownership because of the right to bear arms, as per Amendment II of the Constitution.

But in terms of either war or public emergency America’s Constitution is seemingly lacking provisions allowing for its temporary suspension, to protect itself from threats that seek to destroy it. There is one provision, however: in Article 1, section 9, of the US Constitution Congress may suspend the constitutional right of habeas corpus in cases of rebellion or invasion. Abraham Lincoln famously exercised this power during the Civil War in 1861. But was this unconstitutional since it was an act of the President, not Congress? Lincoln countered by saying that he was, in fact, saving the Constitution, not destroying it.

Post 9/11 and the rise of Islamist terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, is this limited protection of the Constitution sufficient to prevent terrorists from seeking to destroy it? Perhaps the UK’s ‘uncodified’, ‘flexible’ constitution (as opposed to the ‘rigidity’ of the US’s in allowing amendments in only very limited circumstances – see above) is more suited to reacting to threats that seek to destroy it? Since 2000, the UK has introduced a plethora of statutes addressing the threat of terrorism: the Terrorism Act 2000, the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 and the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. The premise of my research was that the US Constitution was too inflexible to counter threats that sought to destroy it, unlike the UK’s flexible constitution. Was the US Constitution, therefore, in a ‘suicide pact’ with the terrorists? But when I started researching this question, it soon became apparent that this was not the case: the ‘form’ a constitution employed did not seem to affect a state’s response to terrorism.

Since 9/11 the US has enacted the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (PATRIOT) Act 2001, which has been reauthorized several times by eg the USA PARIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act 2005, the USA PARIOT Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act 2006, the PATRIOT Sunset Extension Act 2011 and the USA Freedom Act 2015. Non-PATRIOT legislation includes the Homeland Security Act 2002, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act 2004, the Military Commissions Act 2006 and the National Defence Authorization Act 2012. Extra-territorially, the US has also been involved in extraordinary detention, abducting terror suspects around the world, and taking them to detention centres such as Guantanamo in Cuba for ‘enhanced interrogation’ ie ‘torture’. In addition, through their drone programme, the Americans have eg killed notorious terror suspects such as Anwar Al-Awlaki in Yemen in 2010 and, via a special forces operation, have killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. The President has also issued several Executive Orders pertaining to terrorism: 13224 (2001), 13354 (2004), 13425 (2007) and 13780 (2017). Thus, the conclusion of my paper was that, notwithstanding the apparent limits of the ‘rigid’ US Constitution to protect itself, this has not stopped the Legislative and Executive branches from introducing wide-ranging counter measures at home and abroad to keep Americans safe.

There were several other great papers at the conference. Of these, I particularly enjoyed ‘Verbosity: the Expanding Legacy of the Roberts Court’ by Professor Meg Penrose from the Law School at the Texas A&M University in Fort Worth. Meg was particularly concerned at the length of judgments given by Justices of the US Supreme Court, so much so she had drawn up a code for them: ‘A, B, C’. ‘A’ was for ‘accuracy’; ‘B’ was for ‘brevity’ and ‘C’ was for ‘clarity’. Inaccessible laws are a threat to the Rule of Law, as any Public Law student will know. On the issue of brevity for example, Meg noted that the US Constitution itself was only 4500 words but recent key judgments of the US Supreme Court eg Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010) were in excess of 50,000 words – ten times longer than the US Constitution! Indeed, the recent ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), allowing same-sex couples to marry, was longer than 19 of Shakespeare’s plays! In comparison, one of the most famous cases at the US Supreme Court, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), outlawing states’ racial segregation in schools, was less than 4000 words.

On the issue of Obergefell, another presentation I particularly enjoyed was ‘An Obergefell Right to Military Service Eligibility’ by Professor Eric Merriam of the University of Central Florida. Eric was saying that, traditionally, discrimination in the military – eg age, gender, sexual orientation – was lawful. Perhaps this was due either to deference shown to the military or a particular class in society was simply ‘wrong class, wrong time’. But the current decision of the administration of President Trump to exclude transgender persons, in particular, from being eligible to serve in the military was unlawful, in his opinion, because of the reach of the judgment in Obergefell. Eric noted that he was simply discussing ‘eligibility’ to serve, since taking his argument further the US simply could not afford to fund the rights of all potential Americans from actually serving in the military.

 

Dr Ian Turner

Reader in Human Rights and Security

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Student/Prisoner debate 2018 – developing skills and eliminating barriers

By Katie Bingham, Third year LLB Law student, Chair of the first debate

For the second year running, a group of UCLan students and willing participants from a Category D male open prison have partaken in a scheme to enhance their social and debating skills. HMP Kirkham welcomed seven students and two members of staff into the visitors centre as part of the ‘Debating Differences’ initiative, and it was there that the first of four sessions debating current social issues began, facilitated by one of UCLan’s Criminology lecturers, Laura Kelly.

Both students and prisoners were asked to complete some preparation prior to the first session, which focussed on if voluntary euthanasia should be legalised in the UK. This comprised of reading some articles surrounding the topic and writing down individual thoughts regarding each side of the debate. On the day, participants were split into two teams, one in favour of the debate and one against it, and were given adequate time to formulate coherent arguments, as well as responses to the views of the opposing team during short breaks throughout the session. The structure of the debate encouraged all team members to have an opportunity to speak. One person would act as the chair of their team and they had the responsibility of introducing their group’s arguments and summing up the most important points in a concluding statement. The team as a whole were encouraged to take turns in explaining the arguments on their side of the debate and both groups did this extremely well. Throughout the debate, each participant was involved in suggesting, developing and presenting arguments to the other group and it was great to see the confidence of both teams increase as the session went on. It was also thought-provoking to hear the different views on what is a very controversial issue!

As one of the students fortunate enough to be taking part in the scheme, it surprised me how intelligent and articulate the prisoners were, and how much effort they had put into completing their preparation and participating in the debate. Most of them had a commendable academic background, which is not something that you would necessarily expect of a person who has broken the law. The prisoners gave a valuable contribution to the session and presented themselves as hardworking, knowledgeable and dedicated individuals.

Schemes like this allow common stereotypes to be eradicated and encourage people not to prejudge others based on their current situation. I’m confident that if more schemes like this were rolled out nationally, it would dramatically impact the way people think about prisoners and would prove that they are capable of providing a meaningful contribution to society.

I am already looking forward to the next session of the scheme and improving my debating skills further.