"Training is Everything": How to Prepare Students for Policy Clinic Projects


  • Liz Hardie The Open University




As more students carry out policy work as part of their law degrees, the different skills needed for policy work have become clearer. Policy work differs from traditional legal studies in a number of key ways, and so requires different, or more developed, skills to effectively participate and engage in projects. This article reviews the literature on the skills required for policy work. It summarises the evaluation of the online training provided to Open University policy clinic students in 2022-23, analysing the attendance and engagement data and the findings of a student survey to draw conclusions about the value and effectiveness of the training.

In order for law students to carry out policy work, there is a need for training in policy research and analysis skills and the research suggested students found this of value. Whilst the literature suggested the need for further communication skills training, it was not possible to reach an evidenced conclusion about this from the research. Students expressed a strong preference for online synchronous training sessions provided at the start of a project. The recording of those sessions allowed students to re-visit the training throughout the project as and when needed, which was of value to them.