03 November 2015
School marks National Pro Bono Week by encouraging people to use free legal service
Local people can access free legal advice through a law clinic run by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) with support from several local solicitors.
To celebrate National Pro Bono Week UCLan’s Law Clinic is keen to encourage as many people as possible to take advantage of the free service which has so far dealt with over 30 enquiries from people with a variety of legal issues since September.
National Pro Bono Week runs from the 2 – 6 November and is an annual UK event that recognises the contribution lawyers make, free-of-charge, to many people and organisations in acute need.
The UCLan Law Clinic has been running for many years in-house but has only opened its doors to the public since the start of this academic year. It is run by final year undergraduate and postgraduate law students and supervised by qualified solicitors from the Law School and from local firms who give up their time voluntarily.
"Volunteering at the law clinic has benefited me in many ways. It works side by side with my degree and gives me a better understanding of the subjects i am doing."
The clinic provides free legal advice on many issues such as consumer rights, landlord and tenant disputes and business and commercial activities. It aims to help members of the public who need legal advice but can’t obtain legal aid or afford to pay for it and also gives the law students the opportunity to study and advise on real cases.
Farheen Adam, a 21-year-old postgraduate law student, has been working for the UCLan Law Clinic over the last few months. She commented: “It’s allowing me to work with real people with real issues in a very hands-on way. Already I feel much more confident in my interviewing skills and have been given some great feedback from a client who said she was impressed with the level of service she received.”
Fellow student Katie Rourke who is in the final year of her undergraduate law degree added: "Volunteering at the law clinic has benefited me in many ways. It works side by side with my degree and gives me a better understanding of the subjects i am doing. It give me hands on experience on what a career in law will be like; for me the law clinic takes away all the books and stress and lets you put the skills you have been taught on paper into action.”
Kirsty Harvey, Head of Occupational Illness Claims at Meade Law Solicitors in Bolton, is one of the clinic’s supervisors and gives up her time to mentor the UCLan students by sitting in on client meetings and then assisting with the written advice.
She said: “The clinic brings great benefits to people in need of free legal aid; the students are all very keen and work hard to give the best advice possible. They are supported by qualified solicitors at every stage of the process so clients can feel really confident about going along with any issue they have."
"They aren’t dealing with case studies in a classroom, they’re working directly with real people with genuine issues and experience like this will help them stand out when trying to break into the legal industry.”
Kirsty continued: “It also gives the students an experience they can’t get anywhere else. It prepares them for work by honing their legal research skills, introducing them to client interviews and providing written advice. They aren’t dealing with case studies in a classroom, they’re working directly with real people with genuine issues and experience like this will help them stand out when trying to break into the legal industry.”
In addition to working with Meade Solicitors, practitioners from other local firms; Forbes, Slater and Gordon, Curtis Law and Ellen Court Partnership also give up their time to mentor students working at the UCLan Law Clinic.
UCLan senior law lecturer Karen Buckley heads up the UCLan Law Clinic and leads on the University’s Pro Bono work. She commented: “Our students benefit greatly from direct contact with solicitors in the professional workplace and clients have much-needed access to legal advice as a result of this collaboration.
“In the spirit of National Pro Bono Week, where the profession and third sectors come together to celebrate and mark the work they do all year round to improve access to justice, we’d like to highlight this excellent service to the local community and encourage people to use it.”
Anyone interested in using the UCLan Law Clinic’s services can call 01772 893070 or email LawClinic@uclan.ac.uk
Lancashire Law School will celebrate 40 years of legal teaching on Saturday 14 November and will celebrate with an Anniversary Ball at the Marriott Hotel in Preston.