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Law lecturer wins national teaching award

05 May 2015

John Edwards

Michael Doherty recognised for Preston Law Trail project

A law lecturer from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has won a national teaching award for the creation and use of a pioneering teaching and learning resource.

Michael Doherty, Principal Lecturer in Lancashire Law School, has been awarded the 2015 Routledge/ Association of Law Teachers Prize for Teaching Law with Technology. He was recognised for his project, the Preston Law Trail and Legal Blogging.

Now in its third year, the Prize rewards innovation in teaching and learning and is open to all law teachers in the UK. The winning project was based on the OpenLawMap website that Michael created in 2014, which was the first of its kind to map places of legal importance for any jurisdiction in the world.

Michael collected his award at the Annual Dinner of the Association of Law Teachers, held at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Commenting on his achievement, he said: “I am thrilled to receive such a prestigious national prize. Putting the law map together was a lot of work, but I knew that we could use it to do interesting and enjoyable work with our students.”

Michael, an alumnus of Our Lady and St John High School and St Mary’s College, Blackburn, was able to use the map as part of an induction exercise for the September 2014 intake of law students. This led to the creation of the Preston Law Trail and Legal Blogging project.

"The Preston Law Trail has created a lot of interest. Law teachers from around the UK and from as far away as Berlin are looking to develop their own local versions."

He added: “Preston, like all of Lancashire, has so many fascinating legal stories and it was great to see our students engage with them so well. The Preston Law Trail has created a lot of interest. Law teachers from around the UK and from as far away as Berlin are looking to develop their own local versions.”

The Trail included four sites of legal importance in Preston city centre, which students were required to find and photograph, before answering legal questions about the locations. Michael then asked students to conduct further research into other legal issues associated with those sites and to produce blog entries, which were posted on the map.

The issues explored included the William Roache trial at Preston Crown Court and problems of evidence in historic abuse cases; and the Jamie Bulger trial at Sessions House and the age of criminal responsibility.

As well as achieving national recognition, the project was appreciated by the students who participated in it. First year law student, Rebecca Sutton said: “The Preston Law Trail task was current, modern, fresh, competitive, factual, interesting and exceptionally relatable for all students. I would thoroughly recommend the experience for all law schools.”