Urban Lawyers will soon be celebrating its 5th anniversary. The purpose of this blog is to look back over what Urban Lawyers has achieved over the last five years, and consider what is next for the organisation.
Urban Lawyers began 5 years ago, originally as ‘Urban Lawyer’, by its sole founder Tunde Okewale. Tunde is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers; a committed defender who has an impressive practice for his level of call, incorporating general crime, serious crime, and extradition. Tunde’s practice largely encompasses elements of human rights and commitment to issues of social justice and civil liberties.
Tunde founded Urban Lawyers in 2010, feeling a sense of duty to inspire and educate those who aspired to attain career goals similar to his own. Tunde grew up on a council estate in Hackney, where he also went to school before going on to study Law at the University of East London. His academic background couldn’t be further from the public school and Oxbridge educated practitioners at the Bar.
After considering what his main objectives were, Tunde then went about putting this into practice. “Originally, Urban Lawyers was just me – Urban Lawyer. However, I soon realised that for long-lasting effect, it had to be something that someone else could take over and that others could contribute and be involved in. You have to go far and have a journey with people to really succeed. The opportunities and support we provide are mainly through events and online resources.”
Urban Lawyers aims to provide inspiration and education to all who have or will come into contact with the law and/or legal profession. An intention of the organisation is to transform attitudes towards law, policing, personal responsibilities and citizenship.
Over the Years
Urban Lawyers evolved into a multifaceted organisation which achieves its goals in many ways:
Urban Lawyers hosts, facilitates, and promotes legal career events providing students with an opportunity to meet legal professionals and gain insights into the legal world. Over the past few years this has included an array of eclectic events such as a speed dating style event that saw students bring their CVs and get advice from legal professionals; a number of events to assist students with training contract, pupillage, and scholarship applications; all the way through to an event where leading lawyers including Kirsty Brimelow QC and Courtenay Griffiths QC considered the question ‘Does a state which ignores Human Rights to fight terrorism devalue its moral status?’.
Urban Lawyers deliver interactive workshops which engage and stimulate young people in discussions about their attitudes towards the law and the ever-changing policies in their local communities. The workshops delivered vary from legal career development workshops, to youth offenders’ workshops, to tailored workshops on specific areas of criminal law and related areas. The aim of the workshops is to help deter disaffected young people from a life of crime and improve their understanding of the criminal justice system and its policing.
Urban Lawyers provides information about young people’s views and/or experiences of the criminal justice system. Boris Johnson recognised the hard work undertaken by Urban Lawyers and has made the organisation part of the Mayor’s Team London. Tunde was invited to speak at the House of Parliament in respect of the London riots where he was able to address a select group of government officials, senor police officials and Community leaders on the causes and solutions to the London riots.
The Urban Lawyers team have been very busy this year researching and developing their new ‘Law in Action’ series. This is a set of courses with legal content which is set to be taught at schools and universities from late 2015. It provides a simple and undiluted overview of the legal principles and theories that govern our society. It is envisaged that this series will significantly widen the reach of Urban Lawyers.
Urban Lawyers’ merchandise is a way of allowing the law to be integrated into the lives of young people as well as being a visual outlet for relevant information. The merchandise includes clothing such as t-shirts and hoodies, as well as mugs and key rings. All of which have slogans and references to the Urban Lawyers brand, and legislation.
Urban Lawyers in conjunction with legal institutions have awarded scholarships to students who have demonstrated a commitment to social justice and/or who had insufficient funds to pursue a higher education legal course.
- Social Media
Urban Lawyers have an exceptional Social Media team who maintain Urban Lawyers’ online presence with informative posts on legal news, events, and useful information on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. Earlier this year Urban Lawyer’s Instagram account was ranked as the best law-related Instagram account by Legal Cheek (http://www.legalcheek.com/2015/02/11-law-related-instagram-accounts-that-are-worth-a-follow/).
Over the past five years, it is evident that Urban Lawyers has clearly established itself as a firmly rooted organisation. However, it does not end there. Tunde’s vision of Urban Lawyers becoming an international charity are moving closer as the organisation hopes to soon become a registered UK charity. Having recently secured funding from a top international law firm, the organisation’s goals are bigger than ever before.
If you want to know more, please join us at 6pm on 17th September 2015 at Berwin Leighton Paisner to celebrate our work so far and look to the future for what is yet to be accomplished. See https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-urban-lawyers-5-year-anniversary-reception-tickets-18491068283 to book your free ticket.