In the spirit of environmental responsibility, here is the re-purposed draft of my application. This will be submitted once I’ve drawn up the initial literature review.
Outline of research area:
The proposed research focuses on the relationship between university law schools, the legal system, and wider society. In particular it will analyse the role law schools currently play – and could play in the future- in the provision of public legal education through engagement with groups such as schools, charities, and the legal professions.
Aims of the project:
The project aims to critically analyse and lay out the theoretical and practical issues involved in public legal education provision by law schools. It will discuss university public engagement in general- looking particularly at work in STEM fields and the public understanding of science- and then move on to current public legal education, with a focus on the work of law schools. Finally it will describe and critically analyse potential schemes of public engagement with law mediate via law schools.
Following an initial literature review which will establish the theoretical and practical background to the research a series of semi-structured interviews will be carried out. Interviewees will be drawn from heads of law schools and members of relevant community groups. The interviews will be transcribed and coded, and the resultant set of responses analysed.
Currently the research is framed in terms of the following:-
The nature of the English legal system, in particular the idea of the rule of law and the importance for individuals of understanding the system;
The idea of ‘pro bono’ work in law and legal education;
The current Higher Education system, in particular the challenges presented by fees, marketisation, and competition and the implications that these have for curriculum development and outreach work; and
The challenges facing organisations such as schools and charities, and how these affect their capacity to provide public legal education.
The project could clarify the theoretical and practical issues involved in setting up law school provided public legal education projects, and in so doing provide a framework for law schools who wish to conduct such activities. Such a framework could also be of use to policy makers in schools and higher education.
Connections could be set up between law schools and potential partners via the interviews, furthering the provision of public legal education.