‘Open Justice – Just Deserts’ by Jamahl Peterkin

Jamahl received a 2019 Open Justice Award for an outstanding contribution to Open Justice pro bono activities. In this post he reflects on his experience of studying W360: Justice in Action which included working in prisons and providing free legal advice to members of the public in the Open Justice Online Law Clinic.

Introduction

Open Justice module provided me with challenges, hurdles, experiences and insights into practising law. The module prepared me for professional practise; both academically and practically and challenged me to achieve my true potential. The module was rewarding, motivating and at times somewhat exhausting, which is perhaps a fair reflection of what to expect from a career in Law. The culmination of years of academic study leading towards my LLB degree culminated in my work with Open Justice, which was the cherry on the cake.

The Learning Curve

Open Justice provided a steep learning curve which allowed me to excel in professional practice under supervision of qualified solicitors. Prior to Open Justice I had no experience in researching and presenting to an audience on legal matters, no experience offering legal advice, no experience working in prisons and no experience working on online legal platforms. This module added a dynamic learning experience which equipped me with valuable transferable skills. The module pushed me out of my comfort as prior modules had been mainly academically based and I had yet been challenged in a practical setting.

I have gained a wealth of skills and experience during this module in a diverse range of topics. Learning how to communicate effectively, to present to a variety of audiences, to hold online conferences, to research and offer advice and learn how to use online legal advice platforms are just a fraction of some of the skills learnt.

The online law clinic provided me with experience in working as a team on legal issues as well as learning different real-life legal situations such as breach of contract and subject access request legalities. The prison law project gave me the opportunity to research and offer advice to prison inmates and gain experience working in prison institutions. Both projects allowed me to gain practical experience and for my clients to get free legal advice. Just deserts for all involved.

Future Career Opportunities

The Open Justice module has opened up further opportunities and career possibilities. The experience I have had working on the Clio case management platform has equipped me with skills in administering advice on online platforms and the ability to research issues for clients. I have gained practical experience in handling contract law issues which will enhance my career opportunities. This experience has been accompanied by the experience gained working in prison, providing transferable presentation skills and also insight into the professional  etiquette and processes relevant to working within a prison environment.

Just Deserts

This module has added immeasurable value to my CV and has provided invaluable professional experience. It has equipped me professionally and academically to be prepared for a career in law. This module has been the cherry on the cake to my law degree. I am due to finish my LLB with valuable practical experience. I have since been contacted to do work in prison institutions and offer advice on contract law cases. Open Justice – Just Deserts, the proof is in the pudding.