LW7079 - Personal Support Unit

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What will I learn on this module?

The Personal Support Unit is an optional module delivered during the second and third terms of the Bar Professional Practice Course (“BPTC”) and across the portfolio of full-time Bar Professional Training programmes at Northumbria University. It is designed to reflect the nature of practice within the legal system. The Personal Support Unit (PSU) elective comprises work on real cases at Newcastle Combined Court under the supervision of Personal Support Unit staff and simulated and reflective work within the University under the supervision of academic staff.

The Personal Support Unit is a charitable organisation established to assist litigants in person. Through real and simulated experiences with clients, you will develop range of key lawyering skills, as well as effective workplace skills and enhance your own interpersonal skills.

Your work may cover a range of substantive law areas within the context of civil litigation and family matters. In addition, you will learn about the practical and procedural factors that can influence the outcome of a case. You will work with your supervisors to develop the ability to reflect on your learning. This reflection is at the heart of the clinical experience, enabling you not only to learn from your learning but also to fit your individual experiences into a wider context of personal and professional ethics, and the social and economic contexts of law.

How will I learn on this module?

This module is founded upon clinical and experiential learning. Students will work with the PSU at Newcastle Combined Court to assist litigants in person through the legal process. Students will also work in groups of 6-8 with a designated supervisor, who will be a member of academic staff with relevant clinical and legal experience. There will be a weekly "firm meeting" of the students with the supervisor in the third semester to discuss cases, skills development and the legal system. The module aims to bring together practical and academic understandings of law to enable you to develop higher level practice skills, underpinned by the ability to critically evaluate both their own performance and the role of the lawyer.

Students not only develop the workplace skills to work effectively as legal practitioners, but are also able to bring to bear their legal knowledge to solve problems in a systematic and creative manner.

Through this module, students develop the qualities needed for work at the Bar and general employment by showing the development of sound judgement, personal responsibility and initiative, and an understanding of the nature of professionalism and of personal service.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The University is well placed to support you in learning and research with an excellent library and teaching facilities, access to on-line legal databases and resources and appropriate software.

This module will be managed by your designated tutor who will be responsible for guiding you in your engagement and learning on the module. All relevant materials and instructions will be accessible on-line through the module eLP site, maintained by your Module Tutor, and will give guidance on legal skills, assessment and provide self-study materials. You may communicate with your Module Tutor by email or telephone and are encouraged to make contact if you encounter any difficulties relating to any aspect of the module.

Academic support is also available through feedback on tasks and in the firm meetings. At a programme level you will be supported by the Programme Leader who will provide pastoral support throughout the module and the programme as a whole.

The Programme Administration and Student Liaison teams are responsible for the non-academic administration of the module; they will contact you throughout the duration of your module with details about the centralised assessment, and other issues.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

You will:

Knowledge & Understanding:
• Develop knowledge and understanding of how substantive law operates in the context of practice and recognise ambiguity and deal with uncertainty of the law in the practical context.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• demonstrate the ability to give sound, practical written advice on matters raised in legal instructions and advise on any practical steps to be taken, including further inquiries or investigations necessary.

• conduct self–directed research including accurate identification of issues which require researching, retrieval and evaluation of accurate, current and relevant information from a range of appropriate sources including primary sources.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

• display a professional and responsible approach to the course, staff and other students, and to observe the Code of Practice in order to prevent exploitation of clients and preserve the integrity of the profession, maintaining the public’s trust and ensuring continuance of the provision of service

• act in a fashion which demonstrates awareness of diversity, and is non-discriminatory

How will I be assessed?

All student work is closely supervised by the supervising practitioner including every draft of letters, courts documents, interview plans etc. Students submit a personal file of their work and a written reflective essay to form a portfolio which forms the evidence base for the mark awarded.

The clinical experience is based on students receiving continuous feedback on their performance. Formative assessment will in reality take place on a daily basis for most students. That process is formalised both through the weekly firm meetings, and through the keeping of a portfolio with all drafts of work and of feedback.

The level of feedback is therefore exceptionally high, and drives the learning process. In order to ensure a fit with the summative assessment, there is a formal mid-sessional meeting between student and supervisor, with completion of mid-sessional form where both assess the student's work against the relevant grade descriptors, as well as identifying specific issues for reflection.

Feedback is a continuous aspect of the clinical experience.





Module abstract

This clinical module works in partnership with the Personal Support Unit at Newcastle Combined Court and provides a unique opportunity for you to develop your legal skills within an authentic legal environment. This includes work on real cases for the public under supervision enabling you to develop key employability skills. Whilst engaging in this module you will also be engaging with the local community providing a valuable service to people who would not otherwise receive the assistance they require.

Student satisfaction rates for this module are high and you are able to develop personally as well as academically and professionally.

Course info

Credits 12

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time
1 other options available

Department Northumbria Law School

Location Law and NBS Building, City Campus East

City Newcastle

Start September 2019

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