The Impact of Policy Work on Employability Skills in the Policy Project Connected to the Criminal Appeals Clinic at the Open University




The impact of policy work in allowing students to obtain skills in case work should not be understated.  At the Open University (OU) one of our modules on our law degree incorporates clinical legal education.  The Criminal Justice Clinic (CJC) is a digital clinic that sits within that.  The purpose of the CJC is to assist clients that state they have been wrongly convicted of serious criminal offences and are serving long sentences in prison.  It aims to assist with social justice and provide students with professional skills.  Students research and advise on live criminal cases under the supervision of a solicitor.  They apply legal principles to determine whether there are any grounds for an appeal to be made.  Students have full access to case papers.  It is an innovative project as it aims to teach students legal professional skills working on difficult cases in a digital only setting.  

Last year we set up a system where students undertake a policy project before commencing work in the clinic.  This assists them with acquiring the skills that they need when they work on live criminal cases and helps them understand the background to what they are doing.  Students were split into groups and given a policy project to look at and at the end they provided a report. They worked collaboratively to do so and needed to complete the project within a specific time frame. This paper looks at the practicalities of doing such a project digitally and considers the impact on employability skills.

Author Biographies

Emma Curryer, The Open University

Emma Curryer is a Head of Department and Lecturer in Law within the Open University Law School. A qualified solicitor, former prosecutor and a Senior Fellow of Advance HE  Emma has designed, manages and supervises the Criminal Justice Clinic.  This is an online clinic that provides an opportunity for students to work collaboratively in a professional pracrice environemen advising on live criminal appeal cases. Emma’s research interests include criminal law, with particular interest in the concept of justice, heritage and justice in the ancient world and literature.  Her scholarship covers employability and online teaching particularly within clinical legal education, with a focus on the effects of vicarious trauma in the legal profession.

Carol Edwards, The Open University

Carol Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in Law and Student Experience Manager within the Open University Law School. She is a Senior Fellow of the HEA. Much of Carol’s work is focused on the development and induction of associate lecturers.

Carol’s research interests include tackling student isolation via such programmes as online mentoring and the Law School Belonging Project. She is also actively involved in scholarship relating to employability, online teaching pedagogy and supporting armed forces veterans. Before joining the OU Carol worked in further education and is still actively involved in the quality management of Open Access courses.