How might a legal education enable students to contribute to the improvement of society?
Competition entrants were invited to consider the following questions:
- What do you consider to be the key challenges facing society in the 21st century and how can lawyers contribute to meeting these challenges?
- Will law and the way in which lawyers are educated and trained need to change in order to meet these challenges in your opinion?
- Are there aspects of our society which you will be more equipped to improve as a result of having a legal education?
- What has your experience been to date – is there anything that has particularly stood out for you in your course that you feel has given you knowledge and/or skills to enable you to have a positive impact on society?
This year there was a total of 40 essays submitted. The quality was high and the competition resulted in joint winners:
- Sitanta Ni Mathghamhna (Birkbeck College, University of London) – read Sitanta’s essay
- Liz Williams (Christ Church College, University of Oxford) – read Liz’ essay
Both received a mini netbook and an invitation to attend the Higher Education Academy Annual Conference 2010.
Entering the competition in the run-up to sitting my final examinations enabled me to reflect more broadly on the value of my degree – beyond the degree title, beyond whatever classification I eventually attain. Going into one of the hardest graduate job markets of recent years, it is reassuring to feel that my four years at university have been more than merely a means to an end: the competition allowed me to recognise that one of the greatest privileges of legal education has been the scope for personal development in the process itself, equiping those involved with skills to make considered choices and contribute to meeting societal challenges head on. I hope that this is a perspective that resonates with, and reassures, those investing in academic legal education, whether that be organisations and institutions responsible for funding courses or present and future participants.
— Liz Williams
The decision to study law at Birkbeck has been the most personally satisfying one I’ve ever made. However its easy to get caught up in ‘doing’ the degree to the point that I sometimes forget to appreciate the wider impact it has on my life. The real value of the competition for me lies in the fact that it affords an opportunity for students of law to take time out and reflect on the broader context of their studies, particularly on the critical consideration of the role of law in society.
— Sitanta Ni Mathghamhna
Last Modified: 15 November 2010