Community engagement

Free legal advice clinic

Students at the free legal advice clinicOur law students volunteer, giving up their time and applying their legal training to benefit people in the local community who cannot afford legal advice. Without this free service, many of the people our students help simply wouldn’t have access to the legal advice they need to bridge the economic and social divide in terms of accessing justice.

“An excellent service to offer. It is conducted professionally and hugely helps with legal problems, whilst helping students with their degrees, thank you.”

This is just one of the comments from an appreciative user of the Free Legal Advice Clinic.

Kurt Glencastle was Student Project Director from 2017 to 2019: “It is extremely rewarding that you can sit down with a client and really make a difference with something that has probably kept them up a considerable amount of nights. You can have a chat with them and use the knowledge that you’ve learnt from your degree to help other people. I think that’s a really important thing to take away from being a volunteer.”

Students at the free legal advice clinic looking at paperwork

The University invested in two dedicated members of clinic staff in 2018 and since then, the clinic has almost tripled the number of people it can help each year. Laura Bee, Clinic Manager, explains that:

“Since joining the project in early 2018, part of my role has been to help build the project’s profile, continue to improve the student experience and increase the benefits for members of the public so that more people know about it and are able to gain advice that otherwise they might never be able to afford”.

These efforts are increasing awareness of the service, both within the community and among staff and students at the University. As the number of volunteers has increased, so has the range of legal issues that students are able to assist with, spreading the benefits of the scheme more widely.

In 2018, the team advised 45 people. In 2019, the team expect that around 90 people will gain access to free legal advice as a result of the clinic and work to promote the service.

Not only is the service incredibly beneficial for clients, it can really help students in their learning too.

Kurt is clear that his volunteering role at the Free Legal Advice Clinic has helped him get on to the career ladder:

“I think the skills that I’ve been able to obtain from my particular role have been incredible. My confidence in terms of public speaking and client interviewing, trusting myself with the legal knowledge and research, has increased tenfold. I have also managed to secure a job because the employer was blown away by the responsibilities and the roles that we were entrusted with here.”

Kurt is certain that people in need who are wondering if the service can help them shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch:

“My initial advice would be to get in contact regardless of whether they think the issue they’ve got it is too big or too small. If it’s a legal issue and it’s bothering them, then get in touch. If it’s not a legal issue, then we’ve got loads of contacts who we can pass them on to who can help in different respects.

“It is also a free project; we are students volunteering our time but the whole thing is supervised by solicitors as well. The advice that they’re given is completely accurate and they are going to be very well informed by the end of it.

Find out more

Find out more about the Free Legal Advice Clinic initiative:

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