W360 Alumni Kevin Cawley talks about his experience of studying ‘Justice in action’

In 1983, as a spotty faced 15-year-old I wrote in the programme for the school play, that I was going work in law. Fast forward 35 years and I finally fulfilled that prophecy thanks to the Open University and Open Justice activities!

While personal circumstances on leaving sixth form steered me away from university and into full time employment, I’d always maintained a burning ambition to one day study law. In 2014 that day arrived. Four years, one heart attack and tens of thousands of words later, I’d also experienced what it was like to work in the law.

Ok, so I’ve been self-employed for 20 years in an industry which requires little legal knowledge. I may continue down this route, it’s given me a reasonable standard of living and as a bloke just past 50, I’ve considered myself too old to enter the legal profession on a full-time basis. However, as I mentioned earlier, Open Justice has afforded me the opportunity I craved.

The module offers pro bono opportunities for the students. A diverse range of practical legal activities – from school presentations to providing information for prisoners – provide a fantastic platform to build upon for those seeking to enter the legal profession, by enhancing your own employability skills and creating a personal feel good factor.

I engaged in a project which was independent of the module itself and proved a really exciting opportunity and one I could not miss. The remit was to visit HMP Sudbury on three occasions, hold meetings with the prison peer advisors to determine what information they required for those nearing release in various areas, research the law and then present our findings to them. Without the OU it is a chance I never would have had and herein lies the crux of the Open Justice activities.

They provide openings which may never appear again and present a golden opportunity to experience the working environment of a legal professional. Now a 51-year-old balding male, I am forever grateful to the OU for confirming my programme bio back in ’83.