The MOJO casework team could not function without the dedication, the commitment and the sheer hard work of our wonderful volunteers. These are highly motivated individuals who give freely of their time and effort in order to make a difference, and their contribution is both highly valuable and highly valued. Our volunteers are almost entirely students. One of these, Gerard McCusker, has offered the following comment on his time with us:
As a university student you become accustomed to being taught theory, in the environment of a classroom. This is an effective way to lay the foundations of any career. Practical experience, however, is also essential, in developing the individual’s understanding of the career they have chosen to follow.
As a third-year law student at Glasgow Caledonian University, I was given the opportunity to work with MOJO for one day a week, as part of the law course “Professional Links” module. I had to complete a certain number of hours in placement, while maintaining a log book detailing the work done in each session. Working with MOJO has taken me out of my comfort zone of classroom learning, and placed me in an environment where I have to work both individually and as part of a team. I have applied what I have learned at university about Scottish criminal law, and I have developed this knowledge at MOJO while working on “live” cases. Over the six months that I have worked at MOJO I have greatly increased my knowledge not only of criminal law, but also of the workings of the Scottish legal system as a whole.
Since beginning to work with MOJO in January I have been faced with many different tasks and challenges. Through these I have developed skills crucial for anyone aspiring to pursue a career in legal practice. During my first sessions I was tasked to read cases previously taken on by MOJO, and to identify from these the “factual innocence” criteria applied by MOJO as an essential requirement of their involvement. Since these early sessions, I have developed a better understanding of the processes and methods applied by MOJO in assessing applications for their help. I then began to examine cases as part of a team, looking to identify possible grounds on which to submit an appeal. These team exercises are a fundamental element of the MOJO approach. They are seen as vitally important, as each member of the team has a unique perspective in which they view the case. Through discussion everyone has an input and everyone’s understanding of the case is considered.
After spending sessions working on the same cases as others, and looking at the processes each case goes through, I have now been allocated my own case to work through and analyse. I will follow this case through the entire process, which is an incredibly valuable experience for me as an aspiring lawyer. Through the training afforded to me in my early stages I am now confidently in a position where I understand the way that cases are assessed and worked through to the end result.
I have now completed my placement but have chosen to stay with MOJO as a casework volunteer. My time at MOJO, so far, has been very enjoyable. It has provided me with a unique experience, and insight, into the legal world which universities are unable to provide. It has improved my legal knowledge as well as personal skills which will be vital to me throughout my working life. I look forward to continuing to work with MOJO in the future.