Law Lecturer Nominated for Prestigious National Award

14 February 2024
Time to read
5 minute read
A head and shoulders photo of Dr Ruth Flaherty, smiling
Dr Ruth Flaherty

A University of Suffolk law lecturer whose unique teaching includes using fictional characters and 3D printing to analyse legal dilemmas has been nominated for a prestigious national award.

Dr Ruth Flaherty has been shortlisted as one of the five finalists for the Oxford University Press Law Teacher of the Year 2024 Award.

Oxford University Press says the award is the only national prize to reward all-round law teaching excellence, recognising extraordinary teachers; those who are passionate about what they do; and those who add something extra special to their teaching.

Award judges are set to visit campus next week to interview Ruth, her colleagues and students, before making a final decision to be announced at the Oxford University Press’ Excellence in Law Teaching event in June.

Dr Flaherty, said: “It is a huge honour to have been shortlisted for this award, and I am indebted to my colleagues and students for making this happen.

“Teaching at the University of Suffolk has been such a rewarding and fun experience, and I am grateful the university has given me the ability to do so in a creative and engaging way.”

The Ipswich-based lecturer’s unique teaching has included using fictional characters such as Batman villain Poison Ivy, the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe to demonstrate complicated legal principles, and has fashioned 3D-printed legal dilemmas such as creating a model of a Minion wearing a Spiderman costume to pose problems around intellectual property (IP).

She also brings in local legal professionals to co-teach on her modules to give students a real taste of the law in action.

Dr Flaherty is admissions tutor for all law courses and teaches students in modules on Law and Lawyering – an introductory practical module – and leading on the Family Law, Land Law, Intellectual Property Law, European Union Law and Equity and Trusts modules.

In addition, Dr Flaherty co-ordinates the extra-curricular activities for law students, including the David White Memorial Trust Mooting Competition where two teams of students are presented with a fictional legal scenario in which they must present their argument to His Honour David Goodin, a retired Crown Court judge who is a Senior Visiting Fellow and Resident Judge at the University of Suffolk.

Dr Flaherty also looks after Thriving Thursday – a calendar of wellbeing activities for law students, and consults with students on IP for the Careers and Enterprise team’s bootcamp sessions helping students, alumni and the public establish their social enterprise businesses.

She also assists students who sign up for the Start Build Grow course run through the Innovation Labs on campus.

She joined the University of Suffolk in 2019, and is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an external examiner for Solent University.

Associate Professor David James, Head of Law and Social Sciences at the University of Suffolk, said: “Ruth’s nomination for this prestigious award is richly deserved. 

“We see from her teaching every week how inspired our students are from her lectures, and her unique and passionate approach to the subject provides real value for our students in understanding complex legal topics.”

Law students at the University of Suffolk enjoy use of the mock courtroom facility, while students also gain practical legal experience and networking opportunities with placements one day per week in the Clinical Legal Practice module.

Law students gain experience of clients and giving supervised legal advice through the University of Suffolk Legal Advice Centre that provides free legal advice to the community in family law and new business and start-ups.

The Law team also has excellent links with local and regional law firms, including for student placements.

In addition, the Law course works with local solicitors and Suffolk Constabulary, and the University’s Legal Advice Centre provides free legal advice to the community in family law and new businesses and start-ups, where learners can also gain experience.

The Law course was also ranked 5th in the Guardian University Guide 2023 for student to staff ratio.

To find out more about the award nomination, visit the website here.

Find out more about studying Law at the University of Suffolk here.

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