Report on a student led co-creation project: BU Law Review

Megan Mayers reports on her co-creation project ‘BU Student Law Review’ with Professor Dinusha Mendis as academic partner:

This report will provide a brief outline of the progress made in the above project. It will highlight an overview of the aims and how we looked to achieve these. It will also unveil the hurdles faced along the way and future considerations to be made to ensure that this project will continue each year.

AIMS OF THE LAW REVIEW:

  • Provide law students with the opportunity to get involved, utilise legal writing skills, explore areas of interest in law
  • Integrate with faculty of Media and Communications
  • Provide an easily accessible platform for students to broaden legal knowledge and publish good undergraduate work
  • Ensure sustainability of the review to build and develop over time

CONSIDERATIONS OF HOW TO ACHIEVE THIS:

Online Journal
From the original proposal for the law review it was decided that it would take the form of an online journal rather than print. The reasons for this were to keep the costs low, maximise the audience making it easily accessible to those at Bournemouth University. Once the website is set up the team will ensure that the project is sustainable as not requiring further payments.

Academic or less informal
An initial consideration of the executive board was whether the Review would take form as a formal academic journal showcasing essay style articles or whether the website should be less formal with more blog/news reporting style posts. It was agreed that in order to more effective, at least initially, the former style should be aimed for. It might be a later consideration to add blog style legal updates that could perhaps be linked with social media accounts to promote traffic to the site.

Theme for contributions

Dinusha and Jeffrey had previously discussed themes for each edition of the journal. The theme for the first edition was to be law and technology. We agreed that this theme would give scope for students to research and write about developments and consider modern and relevant legal aspects. In addition, this would give the opportunity to consider matters relevant to media and communications, thus integrating the law school into the faculty.

Contributors

We agreed that while the journal would be largely aimed at students- of all years- to write and contribute, we would keep the option open for academics to also do so. Thus, we decided the name of the journal will be BU Law Review, rather than Student Law Review.

Involvement of the media school

We discussed that we could further involve students from the media school in areas such as design factors, marketing, photography, website.

BRINGING THE IDEAS TO REALITY:
We worked with the Executive Board made up of both students and lecturers of the law department who encouraged students to write articles and become involved with the project.

We had assistance from students studying computing who provided ideas and designs for the website, later handed over to the Bournemouth University’s marketing team to finalise.

In integration with the Faculty of Media and Communications we had a media student assisting with photographs, as well as a graphics student who submitted ideas and designs for logo and branding.

There was involvement from law students throughout all years at different stages, including masters, who submitted content to the final draft. Student editors from first, second and final years were also nominated, to ensure inclusivity.

ISSUES FACED ALONG THE WAY

In bringing the review from an idea to a reality not every aspect went to plan. There were several delays to the launch of the review. This did however help us to learn some valuable lessons to ensure the sustainability of the project in the future:

  • Seeking contributors

Seeking contributors to write high quality articles is a key task to ensure that the BU Law Review is successfully maintained. The team sought contributors and spread awareness of the opportunity to become involved in the Law Review in lectures, PAL sessions, social media platforms and groups. While this proved effective, other methods can also be utilised to ensure that the journal is as inclusive as possible.

  • Contributors often becoming too busy and not committing to finishing articles

An issue faced throughout the introduction of this project was with students agreeing to write articles however later found themselves unable to commit the required time to doing so. This was a major issue in causing delays to the first edition, meaning that the executive team were required to devote more time to sourcing new content.

  • Involvement/commitment of editors

Another issue was that once elected, input and commitment from all editors was not always as expected or required. While some were quick to reply and contribute, others were less so.

  • Theme

Overtime we noted that it was more difficult to ensure that all articles were consistent with the theme and that this may make some reluctant to submit contributions and may limit the scope of research.

FUTURE PLANS TO CONTINUE THE LAW REVIEW NEXT YEAR:

  • Elections for executive and editorial team and Social Media Officer

Plans for the election process for the future positions to be filled for editors for next year and social media officer to run respective Twitter and Facebook accounts should be discussed and agreed between students and academics.

  • Official Launch Event

Due to several delays incurred in the process of this project, we have also delayed the official launch event. This is to be held in the new academic year. The benefits of this is that this is likely to engage new students starting in September to get involved and begin the year positively, hopefully inspiring more people to become involved in the future. This will also have the effect of marketing the project well to ensure that this is well established and recognised throughout the law school. Furthermore, at the launch event, some print copies will be made available for the internal and external invitees.

FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS FOR DEVELOPMENT

  • Utilising past dissertations (or amended/shortened versions of)
  • Use of social media to encourage contributors and readers.
  • Up to date news/short blog posts: For both events relating to law review, awards etc and perhaps should blogs regarding legal developments, notable legal events, cases, statutes (e.g. changes resulting from UK’s exit from EU.)

If you wish to access more information about this project, you can contact Megan Mayers here!

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