At the start of every academic year in September, final year students of LLB Law at Staffordshire University embark on training to become the latest additions to the Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC). Local solicitors’ firms come to the university to educate the students on matters including family law, domestic violence and mediation services. This is a term time service that offers confidential and free legal advice.
SULAC began this year at the Combined Court Centre in Hanley on Monday 7th October. Clients are interviewed by a team of two students under the supervision of a senior lecturer who is also a qualified solicitor. Once the interview is completed the students are tasked with researching the relevant areas of law and providing a letter of advice to the client within 14 days. SULAC can offer advice on most areas of civil law including: family, consumer, personal injury and housing. The service is unable to advise on criminal or immigration matters and does not offer debt counselling. Where SULAC cannot provide assistance, the students have the ability to refer the client to another organisation or agency that may help. Clinics are being held this year at the Combined Court Centre in Hanley, Signposts and House of Bread in Stafford; and until the dissolution of Parliament, Jeremy Lefroy’s office. The students will also be holding appointments at HMP Stafford, County Hospital, YMCA Hanley, a military base and the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
The clinic is aimed at providing students with a real-world application of the law they have been studying over the course of the three-year degree. In addition to this the service provides an opportunity for the university to give back to the local community, offering free advice services to members of the public who feel that they have no alternative but to seek support and guidance in matters that are affecting them.
The SULAC students have also enrolled on the LawWorks ‘Law School Challenge 2019-20’. Universities across the country have registered to hold charity events to raise funds in support of legal aid and pro-bono services. The LawWorks and Advocate Law School Challenge is a fundraising initiative designed to raise money for both charities as well as awareness of their work. LawWorks encourages the widespread involvement of law schools and their students in pro bono activity.
The 4th to 8th November 2019 was the 18th annual Pro Bono Week run by LawWorks to encourage and support lawyers and law students to volunteer to give legal help to those in need. Staffordshire University was shortlisted for ‘Best New Pro Bono Activity’ and ‘Best Contribution by a Pro Bono Clinic’ at the LawWorks Pro Bono Awards 2019. A selection of the SULAC students travelled to the Law Society in London for the award ceremony which was attended by Lady Hale.
~Hannah Lewis, LLB (Hons) student.
SULAC didn’t win ‘Best New Pro Bono Activity’ and ‘Best Contribution by a Pro Bono Clinic, but it was a fantastic and well deserved achievement to be nominated.
Congratulations all for your hard work!