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Law Teacher of the Year Award

Winner Announcement

After much deliberation, and a rigorous online judging process, the Law Teacher of the Year judges are delighted to announce that Emma Flint of the University of Birmingham has been named the 2020 winner.

The judging process for the 2020 Law Teacher of the Year award has been both a lengthy and unique one, with all judging taking place online, much like the teaching witnessed. Each of the five candidates were interviewed online by members of the judging panel, who did the same with both students and colleagues, as well as observing both synchronous and asynchronous teaching sessions.

Choosing a winner in such a strong line-up was no easy task. The candidates all displayed exceptional teaching, regardless of the format, and each received endless praise from their students and peers.

The other finalists were:
• Neal Geach, University of Hertfordshire
• Rebecca Maina, Solent University
• Maria Moscati, University of Sussex
• Francine Ryan, The Open University

We send our congratulations for making it to the final stages of the award and would like to thank everyone who took part in nominating, hosting, and arranging online visits. Read their full profiles below.

We hope to put the call out for nominations to the 2022 Law Techer of the Year Award in October. You can find out more by visiting this page closer to the time.

ExpandCloseEmma Flint

LTOTY20 Emma FlintEmma is a learning and teaching fellow at University of Birmingham, with teaching interests in legal skills including communication and writing; land law and tort law.


"I genuinely love teaching law and feel incredibly lucky to be able to do so...I get the opportunity to be creative, innovative and learn from some of the best brains..."

Emma’s nomination came from the Head of Education, and students from the Law Talker community, who recognised Emma’s “humour, personality, and approachability”, and highlighted her “passion for learning and teaching that is infectious”. Her students especially felt that Emma is “a one of a kind lecturer that deserves recognition for her work”.

Much of this feedback is most evident in Emma’s 2nd year LLB core module legal communication and writing, in which students have high levels of autonomy over the area of law, message, and target audience for their assessment. Student’s viewed this module as a way for them to “think for themselves”, and “learn to make informed choices”, whilst also providing “a mechanism for her students to be assessed areas of law that they have a passion for”.

Emma’s nomination also highlighted the various teaching methods Emma uses to engage the classroom, including her use of technology, such as Padlet and Twitter. “Just by being herself”, Emma’s students are “always motivated to actively listen and ask questions”, creating an environment where there is “no barrier or feeling of ‘inferiority’”.

Outside of this module Emma is also part of the law school’s CEPLER employability team and has hosted events with lawyers from practice and worked with the Careers Network to help support her students improve their employability skills. She has also developed the Law Talker community for students, an initiative where they can act as peer mentors and credited in the nomination as “perhaps Emma’s biggest achievement”.

Further to this Emma has also published articles and book chapters on the use of social media, case-based learning, and e-portfolios within law schools. She is currently also working on three educational research projects with Birmingham University’s Higher Education Futures institute (HEFi).

 

ExpandCloseNeal Geach

LTOTY20 Neal GeachNeal is the associate dean for teaching and learning at University of Hertfordshire, teaching equity and trusts; criminal evidence, and tort law.


"I passionately believe that no student’s outcome is predetermined and with equality of opportunity all students have the ability to achieve."

Neal was nominated by two colleagues, who commended his ability to engage students in learning as “phenomenal”, and that Neal “quite simply lives and breathes everything that makes a law teacher outstanding”. Both colleagues and students alike praised Neal for the “passion for what he does”, and the way in which he “strengthens voice and agency within the student body”.

At Hertfordshire Neal has introduced multiple systems to improve pastoral support for students. Such as the introduction of a student support tutor system; the creation of an International Support Tutor role; and the creation of a Student Wellbeing Leader position. These initiatives have meant that students can review their academic progress as well as their wider wellbeing; international students can settle in a new country; and support is given to students with disabilities and mental ill-health. One student praises Neal’s “genuine desire and concern to help” and notes that “everything he does has the students’ best interests at heart”.

Students also applauded Neal’s teaching inside the classroom; reporting that they “cannot wait to watch his next lecture”, and another appreciating the fact that “Neal has developed an art of simplifying the most complex issues”.

Outside of lectures Neal has written three books and several journal articles which support student learning; as well as conducting research into embedding more practical skills exercises into modules, skills that have helped develop student understanding.

Neal has also played a leading role in developing a range of scholarships and prizes to support students by securing new donors; he is also active in developing employability skills and hosts weekly drop-in surgeries offering career advice; actions that have been cited as having “built confidence and raised aspiration” within the student body.

 

ExpandCloseRebecca Maina

LTOTY20 Rebecca MainaRebecca is a senior lecturer in law at Solent University, where she teaches criminal law; law and popular culture; and criminology and CJP.


"My quest...is to foster more ‘movers of educational space’. To that end, I endeavour to create opportunities for my learners to be heard, and for me to listen."

Nominated by two colleagues, Rebecca’s "enthusiasm and sheer joy that she brings to both the subject matter and the means of delivery" has been exemplified. Her colleagues have praised “her knowledge and application to her subject area”, calling it “profound”. Likewise, Rebecca’s students see her as a “positive role model” and “confidante”, calling her a “really passionate lecturer with a wealth of experience.”. 

Rebecca has embraced new technology to enhance her teaching and learning, enlisting the use of Prezi, Mentimeter, and Panopto, for example. Creating this “distinctive” approach to her classroom, in combination with her “enthusiasm and sheer joy”, has meant that for both students and colleagues she is “very inspirational”.

Not content with just using the software Rebecca undertook a study on the use of new technologies, which resulted in their wider use across the law school, and “blazed a trail for her colleagues” She used this study as an example to her students of how engaging in research and investigation can enhance personal awareness and understanding.

Rebecca’s delivery style within the classroom is matched by her “very strong and positive personality”, which in turn allows students to find the learning “both interesting and fun”. 

Rebecca is also highly supportive of the student societies, and regularly attends staff-student social events; her presence at open events has been influential with several students claiming they “chose Solent because they encountered Rebecca at an Open Day”. 

Having taught criminal law and published on human rights, Rebecca has “inspired students” to choose dissertation topics on issues she has outlined and is a popular supervisor. She is also currently a member of the editorial board of the Mountbatten Journal of Legal Studies and has written, edited and refereed other works.

 

ExpandCloseMaria Federica (Marica) Moscati

LTOTY20 Maria MoscatiMarica is a senior lecturer in family law at University of Sussex.


“Education is a shared effort…teachers and students learn from each other, thinking critically beyond what is immediate and convenient; and paying attention to emotions, spontaneity and creativity.”

Marica was nominated by two of her colleagues; they paid tribute not only to her “passion, personality and love for teaching and learning”, but also how her approach is “uplifting and inspiring” to colleagues. Students appreciated how she was “always warm and friendly and... adds some humour to the lessons.”

Marica introduced two ADR modules when she started teaching at Sussex. She uses empirical case studies, simulations, and role-plays drawn from her research, as well as her experience in legal practice and in working with NGOs.  Feedback from students praised the module content: “amazingly relevant to our everyday lives”, application: “great experience for our future careers” and the skills acquired: “gained a wealth of skills including communication, collaboration and self-confidence.”

Marica’s support for students and faculty came through clearly in her nomination. Students fed back how they felt “cared for”, and that Marica had given them “total support”. As PhD co-convenor Marica finds herself supervising a range of topics, she is praised by her co-convenor for being “so enthusiastic about her PhD students’ success. She motivates them continuously and shares their passion.”

Marica has a background as a both a lawyer and working as Programme Officer at Save the Children, and this diverse professional experience underpins her “unique approach” to teaching. Marica has also been actively involved in the development of Clinical Legal Education at Sussex and is one of the lead academics of CLOCK, a legal clinic project aiming at supporting litigants in person. She is also an advocate of decolonizing the curriculum so as to create spaces of dialogue within the law school. 

Beyond the classroom Marica has written a short book for children based on empirical data she collected, and delivered a workshop on ‘The Right to be Myself’ at the Italian School in London, which the Head of School acknowledged had resulted in individual children coming forward and speaking up. 

 

ExpandCloseFrancine Ryan

LTOTY20 Francine RyanFrancine is a senior lecturer in law at The Open University, teaching Justice in Action.


"All students should have the opportunity to participate and succeed, I am inspired by my students to try to achieve this."

Francine was nominated by a colleague and student, both of whom highlighted her combination of leadership and pastoral support, which has “raised aspirations and instilled confidence in her students”.

Having founded the Open Justice Online Law Clinic, Francine has created the UK’s first ‘virtual law clinic’, enabling part time students to put their legal knowledge and skills into practice for the benefit of the public. As a result, students can obtain pro-bono legal work, and provide legal advice to members of the public, regardless of work commitments and geographical location. As a graduate of the clinic states, their time there has given them the “opportunity not only to make a practical difference to people’s lives, but also to test my legal knowledge and skills”. One student looked back on their time in the Legal Advice Clinic as “some of the most rewarding during my law degree”. 

Alongside this, Francine makes herself available outside office hours to ensure that students with work or domestic commitments are able to take part, with the clinic even being open in the evening and weekends. Francine also teaches to a highly diverse student body and overcomes the challenges this can pose. Nearly a quarter of her students have a declared disability, 39% have prior qualifications equivalent to less than two A-levels, and a small proportion are based in prison. As such Francine’s nominators praise her determination that “these circumstances would not prevent her students from the personal and professional benefits of engaging in clinical legal education.” 

Francine’s Open Justice Online Clinic has also received much interest from scholarly legal education, and she has been invited to speak at international conferences, including an event celebrating 50 years of Hong Kong Law School. Francine has also presented research on the impact of her clinic at conferences, including GAJE 2019, IJCLE 2018 and ENCLE 2017.

 

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