The Scottish University Law Clinic Network (SULCN) is an initiative that brings together, and raises awareness of, student law clinics in Scotland.
These law clinics aim to address access to justice problems across society in a variety of ways, including:
- public legal education, to allow people to recognise when they have a problem with a legal solution or (ideally) to avoid a legal problem in the first place;
- advice and (where possible) assistance to resolve a legal problem where alternative support is not available, which might be the case when someone is not eligible for “legal aid” but is not otherwise able to afford professional legal advice;
- campaigning for appropriate law reform where the legal system creates barriers to accessible legal solutions; and
- introducing law students to issues of social justice early in their educational development, in the hope that they will take a commitment to social justice forward into their legal careers.
Law clinics across Scotland use the enthusiasm and skills of law students to make an impact in their local communities. That enthusiasm is offered “pro bono publico”, which is Latin for “for the public good”. Students, supported by academic staff and others from the wider legal profession, undertake this activity without asking for a fee from anyone they assist.
Those services are offered at a local level, as detailed below. SULCN does not involve itself directly with those activities. What SULCN does is offer a forum to share and showcase ideas amongst like-minded students, academics and supporters. It also supports the establishment of new law clinics where that is appropriate and helps existing clinics make decisions about future directions and activities. All clinics are faced with different circumstances and choices and members of SULCN engage in research and organise events to help law clinics to best adapt to those circumstances and make appropriate choices. Those activities are detailed below.
Law Clinics in Scotland
If you have a specific legal problem or a project that you feel a law clinic could help you with, please contact your local law clinic.
For those seeking advice or assistance, please note that law clinics often do not advise in certain areas, with normal exclusions being family law and criminal law. Please also note that the relevant law clinic may not be able to assist you, particularly if you earn over a certain threshold amount or if there is a more appropriate alternative provider who can assist you, which would normally be the case if you are eligible for legal aid.
The law clinics operating in Scotland at present are:
- Glasgow Caledonian University Law Clinic
- University of Strathclyde Law Clinic
- Aberdeen Law Project
- The University of Edinburgh Free Legal Advice Centre
- Edinburgh Napier Law Clinic
- The Law Clinic at Robert Gordon University
In addition to dealing with individual cases, most of these law clinics have experience of delivering public legal education programmes to a wide variety of audiences. This might involve teaching school pupils about the law to raise awareness of young people’s rights and responsibilities, working with third-sector organisations, or contributing to the rehabilitation of offenders. If you have a proposal for a specific locality please contact your local law clinic. If you feel a Scotland-wide approach might be appropriate, please contact Rebecca Samaras.
SULCN has hosted an annual event since 2012. These events are available online (at Malcolm Combe’s WordPress blog or Wakelet page).
- 2012 (University of West of Scotland)
- 2013 (University of Strathclyde)
- 2014 (University of Edinburgh)
- 2015 (University of Aberdeen) (and see this related Opinion in the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland)
- 2016 (Glasgow Caledonian University)
- 2017 (Glasgow Caledonian University)
- 2018 (University of Dundee) (also see this reflection by Strathclyde student advisors)
- 2019 (Edinburgh Napier University) (also see this reflection by Strathclyde student advisors)
- 2020 (Online Event as a result of Covid-19) (also see this reflection by Strathclyde student advisors)
The 2021 Conference will take place at the University of Strathclyde. For all information on future SULCN events, news and activities please sign up here.