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Nottingham Law School

Change, growth and success at Nottingham Law School

Helen Hudson, Head of Department

Head of Department Helen Hudson explains how your voice has helped to improve the range of learning pathways and hands-on legal practise opportunities at Nottingham Law School.

Student feedback has always been important to us. We gather it from course committee meetings, the National Student Survey, Mentimeter and discussion forums. It’s played a vital role in improving and expanding what we’re doing here.

Employability’s a good example. Our students said they wanted a better idea of their own employability journey, from the start of their studies; a sense of the bigger picture. So in response to that, we’ve now reworked an entire first year module – Legal and Professional Environment – and introduced a skills audit and ePortfolio. It gives our students the chance to reflect on their own skills and experience, identify any gaps early on, and then work with us to fill those gaps throughout the course of their degree.

It’s about personalising the learning journey as much as possible. That’s what makes the Law School such a special place to be, and why our employability figures are so strong. We’ve also introduced CV writing into the module, as well as teaching sessions delivered by the Employability team. We’re bringing in experts from outside the School to add even more value to our students’ experience, and their professional prospects.

We’ve also actioned over 190 individual requests for timetable changes this year, which shows how flexible and responsive we are as a faculty. When students need to change their schedule – maybe for extracurricular reasons, or simply in the name of their work/life balance – we’ll work really hard to accommodate them. People wanted more flexibility, so we’re answering that need – and as the process gets digitised, it’s only going to become more streamlined and user-friendly.

Through feedback, we’ve learned that it’s not just about accommodating all the different areas of legal practise, and the types of lawyers people want to be. It’s about building in transferable skills too, for the students who perhaps don’t want to be lawyers – things like presenting, negotiating and research skills. With the help of feedback, we’re continually making our law degrees more diverse and relevant.

Our students told us that they wanted more placement opportunities – both in our Legal Advice Centre, and externally. So because of that, students in Year Two now have the option to do half-year modules, where they’re with us for the first half of the year, and out on placement in the second – either at home or abroad. We’re continually expanding our range of final year pathways, too, which again shows a commitment to the personal journey. And in order to make sure everyone gets that “real world” experience, we’ve also introduced the Employer Challenge – so that by the end of their degree, every single one of our students will have had the opportunity to work directly with an employer.

Based on feedback, we’ve also expanded the integration of our Legal Advice Centre. It’s not just for volunteers – our students’ experience there can be credit-bearing, as an agreed part of their studies. On the volunteering side, the Centre’s perfect for students who want to show employers that they went the extra mile. But on the credit-bearing side, it’s a great fit for those who want the experience of working with clients, but perhaps don’t get the chance to volunteer because of their other commitments.

We want our students to be resilient, to take on challenges, and to have an appetite for new experiences. That’s what the sector expects. Things like placements and a greater range of pathways encourage those behaviours, as does the ongoing dialogue between ourselves, our students, and the industry – and that’s why feedback is so important.

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