LawPALS: Peer learning in the Law School
The Law School has developed a peer learning scheme to support its students.
Edinburgh Law School's Peer Assisted Learning Scheme (LawPALS) was the first peer support mechanism in the university aimed at current university students. LawPALS is designed to help students adapt to studying law and, for four-year students, studying at university.
LawPALS exists to ease social and academic transition from previous study to studying at university and, in the case of our Graduate students (those with a degree in another discipline who come and complete the first two years of the LLB) more specifically the study of law.
This programme was originally set up to support students entering Law School through widening participation and outreach routes. It was always open to all our students to avoid stigmatising or singling out groups of students. Support of all our students is a key part of what we do as a School and as such, LawPALS is embedded within the timetable - i.e. nothing else is scheduled at that time.
Every first year LLB student is automatically assigned to a LawPALS Group which meets weekly for an hour a week through the first semester. Groups are led by trained third and fourth year Student Leaders who are there to help navigate life at law school.
Sessions are offered for four-year LLB students, graduate students, and exchange student on topics ranging from introductory tours of the campus, to legal research skills, improving essays, and sitting and revising for exams. Sessions have a theme but are deliberately flexible to allow questions to emerge. We want students to see LawPALS as 'the safe place to ask stupid questions.'
Feedback from students involved in LawPALS has been incredibly positive. Students noted that the sessions were “really reassuring” and attendance “calms down a lot of worries”. Students appreciated the approachability of LawPALS leaders who “were very relaxed and friendly”, and “easy to understand!”. Sharing personal experience was a particular highlight of the peer scheme: one student commented that the sessions were a “good way to find out honest opinions from older students”.
Students also remarked that:
“The sessions taught me a lot about getting the most out of my degree”
“The sessions were really helpful because they were a complete guidance for my career planning in law. They offered a lot of valuable information”