Now that the 2020-2021 Academic Year is officially over it’s time to welcome the 2021-2021 Executive Committee.

Over the past month, interviews took place to recruit the Law Clinic’s 2021-2022 Executive Committee. The Law Clinic received applications from students from all years with all candidates showing great enthusiasm.

Students are imperative to the operation and running of the Law Clinic and it is the Executive Committee who take the reigns in guiding the Law Clinic. This years interviews identified key individuals who will be at the core of the running and development of the Law Clinic, especially during this time of continued uncertainty.

Our Elected Committee Members remain in post until the next AGM which is normally in October.

Commenting on the new Executive Committee, Law Clinic Student Directors had this to say:

Rebecca Dyer (Student Director) said:

“After an extremely rewarding and invaluable experience as a Student Advisor, Firm Coordinator and Deputy Student Director, I am elated to be taking on the role of Student Director. Being part of the Law Clinic has been the highlight of my university career, and as the 2021-2022 Academic Year marks my final year of academic study, this role signifies the end of my journey and will allow me to give something back to the Law Clinic. To outgoing Executive Committee members, I cannot thank you enough for all of your hard work, support and contributions to the Law Clinic, as well as your passion and drive in providing access to justice. I wish you all the very best for the future! To new and existing Executive Committee members, I am delighted to be working with you all, and I very much look forward to collaborating with you in the year ahead. I am extremely confident that this new Executive Committee will ensure the Law Clinic’s future development overall, always keeping our passion for providing access to justice at the centre of our mission and reaching as many people in need of our service as possible.”

Jordan Hamlett (Student Director) said:

Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you to the outgoing Executive Committee members, including but not limited to last year’s Student Director, Karen Yuill, and I wish everyone the absolute best in your future endeavours. Secondly, it isn’t easy to put into words as to how excited I am for the upcoming year and to work with the new Executive Committee members and the members who retained their position for another year. All the members on the Executive Committee are incredibly passionate about providing access to justice, and I do not doubt that the new and remaining members will significantly contribute to the progressing of the Law Clinic so that the clinic can provide access to justice to a broader community.”

The 2021-2022 Executive Committee is made up of the following people:

Student Directors: Jordan Hamlett and Rebecca Dyer

IAC Coordinator: Cara Hope

Deputy IAC Coordinator: Alanna Sommerville

Online Project Manager: Laura Hart

Training Officer: Mhairi Strachan

Deputy Training Officer: Sophie Rook

CCU Coordinator: Caoimhean Mac Dhorchaidh

Prisons Project Manager: Gregor Henderson

Deputy Prisons Project Manager: Katie Gardener

Firm Coordinator (Firm A): Nicola Maguire

Firm Coordinator (Firm B): Carly Morrison

Firm Coordinator (Firm C): Martin Gallacher

Firm Coordinator (Firm D): Carmen Rowat

Firm Coordinator (Firm E): TBC

Firm Coordinator (Firm F): Daniel Leyden

SWRC Coordinator: Erin Connor

The Asylum Project Co-Coordinator: TBC

Funding Officer: TBC

Communications Officer: TBC

Elected Committee Members:

  • Ronan Leslie
  • Laura Nicol
  • Karen Lee-Johnston
  • Youssef Abdul Azeez
  • Rosie McIntosh
  • Adriana Cavallaro
  • Ashlie Henderson
  • Jonathon McNamara
  • Caitlin McAllister
  • Peter Akehurst

University of Strathclyde Law Clinic: Carer’s Group Blog Post

Law Clinic Student Advisor, Laura Nicol, writes about her experience providing Strathclyde Carer’s Group with two information sessions on Power of Attorneys and Guardianship Orders alongside fellow Student Advisor, Darya Burton.

(Law Clinic Student Advisors, Laura Nicol and Darya Burton)

Over the past two weeks, Darya Burton and I were given the chance to provide Strathclyde Carer’s Group with two information sessions on Power of Attorneys (POAs) and Guardianship Orders (GOs). The group had received similar information sessions in the past from previous clinic members and they were keen for further sessions as long-standing members of the Carer’s Group often spoke of how good and useful it had been.

Darya had a little experience with the subject matter from her working in a law firm and I had basic knowledge. However, we worked together to produce fresh PowerPoint slideshows by utilising previous PowerPoints we had in our database, extensive research and consulting supervisors. These two PowerPoints broke down the essential information in regard to POAs and GOs.

We decided to split the sessions into two, as the subjects are already easily confused and discussed as if they’re interchangeable which they aren’t. We thought this would also help separate the two in the listeners minds as there was also a lot of information in each presentation and we thought it a bit much to absorb all at once.

For those who are unaware of the difference between POA and GO, POA can only be granted by someone who has capacity, and only usually ‘kicks in’ once they have lost capacity (often described as an ‘insurance policy’). Whereas a GO is the process you have to go through to be able to make a decision on another person’s behalf if they have either already lost capacity, or never had capacity as an adult. Both POA and GO are governed by the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 and there is also a useful guide to the act which can be found here if anyone is looking for further information:

The presentations were received very well and brought up some very interesting and important conversations within the group. We thank the group for having us and we are glad they enjoyed it and found it useful. Their feedback was that:

“Both Laura and Darya were excellent, they presented very well with clear slides and information and were more than able to answer any questions which were sent their way. All in all a really great couple of sessions which all attendees found useful and informative”.

For other clinic members who find themselves doing a presentation in the future here are useful pointers;

  • Use it as a learning experience – researching things you don’t know about will only help your research skills and knowledge.
  • Keep the slides simple – remember that who you are presenting to may know little about the law and that is probably why you are doing a presentation for them.
  • Avoid using green, pink or red fonts or backgrounds – these colours in particular often make it harder for people with dyslexia to read and view the information.
  • Use clinic resources where possible – there is always usually something on the database which will be helpful!

Laura Nicol, Student Advisor at the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic.

The Scottish Government Introduce The Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2019

Members of our Prisons Project and Criminal Convictions Unit write about the introduction of The Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2019 by the Scottish Government.

For the citizens of Scotland, with previous criminal convictions, Tuesday the 1st December 2020 was a landmark day. In an attempt to support ex-offenders, on the path to employment, the Scottish Government have introduced The Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2019.  This legislation amends provisions within the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and will result in fewer convictions appearing on Disclosure Scotland checks, for people applying for jobs.

So, what is a spent conviction? When a court hands down a sentence, that sentence will appear on the offender’s criminal record. Depending on the nature of the offence, the offender, when applying for a job or a disclosure, is required to disclose any unspent criminal convictions. Unspent convictions are those convictions that have not yet reached the defined time period outlined by law when the offender no longer needs to disclose his/her offence(s) to an employer/ future employer.

So how does this legislation change things?

For non-custodial sentences the disclosure changes include:

  • For community payback orders, a reduction from five years to 12 months or the length of the order, whichever is longer;
  • For fines, a reduction from five years to 12 months;
  • An admonishment or absolute discharge will no longer need to be disclosed.

For custodial sentences, disclosure periods will be:

  • For sentences up to 12 months, the length of the sentence plus two years;
  • For sentences between 12 and 30 months, the length of the sentence plus four years;
  • For sentences between 30 and 48 months, the length of the sentence plus six years.

Offenders aged under 18 at time of conviction have the additional period reduced by half.

Over the next year these changes will have a major impact on the daily work of Strathclyde Law Clinic Prison Project Outreach Programme.  This programme sees law clinic volunteers interact with prisoners at Scotland HMP Low Moss Prison.  The programme helps educate and prepare prisoners for life after prison, including helping on the path to employment.

Speaking about the legislative developments in this area, Prison Project coordinator, Emelia Connor welcomed the positive steps, “”Having been involved with the prison project for the past 4 years and worked closely with HMP Low Moss, I am so relieved to see this change to the law and the positive impact it will have on ex-offenders. We look forward to continuing to work alongside the prison and informing as many ex-offenders about this momentous change to the law.”

The introduction of the new legislation has also been widely welcomed across the political, economic, and voluntary sector.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf highlighted the need for change: “Parliament agreed that current disclosure periods are too long. Employment and the skills, opportunities and hope that it brings, can support routes out of offending, thereby contributing to safer communities.”

‘Pressure Group Scotland’ believes it will have a positive impact. They see the Act as “good for business allowing access to a wider talent pool and the removal of some hiring barriers, employers in Scotland will be able to recruit more widely than ever before.”

Phil Martin is the founder of ‘Ex Seed’, a support service network for people with convictions. He believes the changes are long overdue, “I am pleased with the changes in Scotland of the Management Offenders Act 2019 which allow people to gain their freedom from the shadow of disclosure a little earlier than would have otherwise been the case. It is important that we give real weight to the “ex” in “ex-offender” so that it is not just individuals who see themselves as changed, but society which also allows people to leave their mistakes in the past and move on to live crime-free and fulfilling lives.”

Indeed these changes form part of a wider cultural change in society towards Ex-Offenders. In recent years, well known high street brands and corporations like Virgin Trains, Greggs, Timpson and Marks & Spencer have initiated programmes to rehabilitate ex-offenders and bring them back into the workplace.

Figures last year, for the Department of Justice in the UK, showed just 17% of ex-offenders get jobs upon release from prison, and of the 17%  around 9% are less likely to reoffend.

The new legislation forms part of a wider UK strategy in this area. In 2017 the UK Civil Service reaffirmed its ambition to become the most inclusive employer in the UK by 2020, through the publication of its ‘Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.’ More recently, in 2018, the Ministry of Justice published their ‘Education and Employment Strategy’, to create a system where each person with a criminal record is set on a path to employment from the outset.

University of Strathclyde Law Clinic: Advocacy Training Blog Post

Law Clinic Deputy Training Officer and student advisor, Sophie Rook, writes about the Advocacy Training event hosted by the Law Clinic and led by two solicitors from DAC Beachcroft.

(Deputy Training Officer and Student Advisor: Sophie Rook)

On the 14th of October 2020, the Law Clinic hosted an impressive and informative advocacy training event led by two solicitors from DAC Beachcroft. The tickets sold out quickly and everyone who attended enjoyed an insightful and engaging presentation and were also able to discuss advocacy skills with individuals who have first-hand experience in the profession. John Stringer, an ex-Law Clinic student, and Jamie Varney, who has extensive experience in both criminal and civil advocacy, were brilliant and shared their wealth of knowledge on how to prepare a case for court and approach cross-examination.

In the clinic, we exercise advocacy skills in cases which involve the Employment Tribunal, the SSSC, the First-tier Tribunal (Housing) and when dealing with Simple Procedure in the sheriff court. As such, this session was invaluable for all who were able to attend.

More generally, the afternoon provided a deeper understanding of the profession and also a sense of comfort that even seasoned professionals still get nervous attending court. One of our attendees, Catriona MacBean, thoroughly enjoyed the session and stated:

“John and Jamie were so lovely and engaging throughout the training. I felt very reassured when they said it is natural to feel nervous in court, even twenty years down the line.”

Overall, the session was a great success and a brilliant experience for all our attendees. We hope to provide more training like this throughout the year, not only to help improve our work in the clinic but also to build on our confidence and prepare us for working life.

University of Strathclyde Law Clinic: The Online Project

Our Online Project Manager, Francesca Pozzo, and Deputy Online Project Manager, Laura Hart, have written a blog post about our Online Project and detail how to seek assistance through our online advice service. 

What is The Online Project?

The Online Project is a free legal information and guidance service accessible through the Law Clinic website. Anyone can submit an enquiry online and will receive a response from one of our trained Student Advisors within just a few weeks. This service is intended to give some general guidance only and is ideal for people who cannot afford to consult a solicitor and cannot obtain legal aid but perhaps just need some initial guidance  regarding the legal aspects of an issue and/or an idea of their next steps towards resolution. The Online Project can help with a range of legal issues including, but not limited to, employment, housing/property, and consumer rights.

What happens when I submit an enquiry?

When we receive an enquiry, it is checked to ensure that it is suitable for an online response. Then a Student Advisor will be allocated to your case. They will apply their own knowledge and conduct research to provide some guidance in response to your query. The advice is all checked over by one of our qualified supervisors.

What will the advice include?

The response will include:

  • An explanation of the relevant law and how it applies to your issue
  • Links to any useful resources and/or services
  • Guidance on the options available and an outline of how to progress

Our dedication to increasing access to justice

This service helps to increase access to justice for those who do not have access to advice or representation. This is a valuable service notwithstanding the pandemic, but with many in lockdown and facing unprecedented circumstances, it is particularly helpful.

If you have a legal issue and would like advice, then our Online Project is here to help you – find us at: