A Day in the Life of a Summer Student – Rebecca Dyer

Every year the Law Clinic provides a group of students with the opportunity to work during the summer holidays. The Law Clinic supports clients throughout the year and it has been extremely rewarding to be able to ensure that clients continue to receive high quality support during the summer period.

“This year, I was given the opportunity to work in the Law Clinic with a group of fellow students during the summer. The service provided by the Law Clinic to clients runs throughout the whole year, and I can truly say that it is a pleasure to have been part of a team ensuring that this support and assistance is continued over the summer. It has been so rewarding to continue to provide access to justice to those who need it the most.

Throughout my summer working in the Law Clinic, this role allowed me to work on an abundance of different cases, giving me insight of the true scope in which this organisation helps people. There is no day that is the same. I have been able to provide help and assistance to clients as well as progress and develop my own skills. As part of the Asylum Project, I have been one of the students responsible for meeting new referrals in need of support with their asylum claims, creating new resources and improving the administration of the Asylum Project. I am also a Firm Co-ordinator and have spent the summer months organising my firm and strategizing for the academic year ahead.

I have recently taken on more responsibility in the Law Clinic, after taking on a Firm Co-ordinator position. My experience working in the Law Clinic over the summer has allowed me to familiarise myself with this role and has given me the opportunity to discuss and work with my fellow dedicated students and staff. This has been valuable in improving my work in the Law Clinic and provide a high quality service to clients, giving them access to justice.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me as a member of the Law Clinic.”

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Law Clinic Alumni Presents Co-authored Paper in Rome

As part of the Law Clinic’s exchange programme with the University of Miami Health Rights Clinic, one of our former students, Alice Bowman, alongside former Miami University student, K. C. Della Fera, recently presented their co-authored paper at the International Academy of Law and Mental Health in Rome.

(From left to right Alice Bowman and K.C. Della Fera)

This paper focused on vicarious trauma, how this affects law clinic students and what students and clinic directors can do to manage and prevent the burnout and vicarious trauma. Alice said that although lawyers often deal with the same client groups as social workers, counsellors and psychologists, unlike these disciplines, there is little or no focus in legal education on how working with vulnerable groups can impact upon legal practitioners. Rather, legal education is taught in an emotional vacuum. Student lawyers are often taught that only things relevant to their relationship with their client is how well they know the law.

Alice advised that the conference saw lawyers, academics, educators,  social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists come together to discuss hundreds of issues related to mental health and law.

Alice said “This was a fantastic opportunity for us to present our findings on this issue and I would like to thank both Strathclyde and Miami Law Clinics as well as Thompsons Solicitors for all of their support.”

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Student Directors Provide Presentation to Senior Judges from Thailand

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic was given the unique opportunity to present the Law Clinic to thirty-five senior Judges, including several members of the Supreme Court, from Thailand.

The event, organised by Paul James Cardwell, a Professor in the Law School, was part of a two week trip and aimed to provide the Thai Judges with an insight into the University of Strathclyde Law School and aspects of the Scottish Legal System.

Last summer both Student Directors delivered a similar presentation to senior Judges from Thailand. After hearing about the Law Clinic from their colleagues, the Senior Judges expressed an interest in learning more about the work we undertake.   

James Anderson and Kirstie Webb, Student Directors of the Strathclyde Law Clinic, volunteered to provide a presentation to the Judges, describing the work the Law Clinic carries out, how it operates and students involvement in the Clinic.

Both Student Director’s found the experience invaluable, with Kirstie Webb reflecting:

“It was a privilege to have another opportunity to address the Supreme Court Judges from Thailand and demonstrate the legal services that we offer. The work carried out by our student advisors is truly inspiring, this opportunity to showcase their dedication to access to justice, particularly to such a respected audience, was a memorable experience.”

James Anderson recalled:

“I was extremely proud to have the opportunity to talk about the work conducted by the Law Clinic and how it benefits the general public and students alike. During our time with the Judges we learned that Thailand does not currently have anything comparable to a Law Clinic, therefore it was a privilege to convey and hopefully encourage the principle of access to justice through Law Clinics.”

Dr. Sutatip Yuthayotin, one of the judges from Thailand, assisted the Student Directors by translating their presentation, reflected on the event saying:

“As legal practitioners, we, the visiting judges from Thailand, have found that the law clinic at Strathclyde University offers important opportunity for young students to learn laws by their own practical experiences. This is a unique form of legal education that will be beneficial not only to individual law students but also to the community and public as a whole.”

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New Project: Disability Discrimination Project

The Law Clinic is delighted to announce its new project on disability discrimination.

(From Left to Right Law Clinic Student Advisors: Zoe Law and Eilidh Campbell)

This timely initiative will start by exploring the wealth of Law Clinic casework in this area. Throughout the summer, this work will be carried out by Law Clinic student advisors, Zoe Law and Eilidh Campbell. This research will be used to identify trends and challenges in discrimination claims, which will help us to devise user-friendly guidance for claimants on how to effectively bring disability discrimination claims to the Employment Tribunal.

The Law Clinic would like to thank the Strathclyde Alumni office for its support of this project, which we hope will help not only existing Law Clinic clients but will increase the public’s knowledge of how they can seek redress for disability discrimination issues.

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Strathclyde Law Clinic Attends Law Society of Scotland Access to Justice Roundtable

Student Director James Anderson from the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic recently attended the Law Society of Scotland’s Access to Justice roundtable event on 24 July 2019.

The event, hosted by the Law Society of Scotland at their offices in Edinburgh, brought together organisations from across Scotland to discuss issues facing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and pro bono work. The event featured parallel roundtables that gave members and stakeholders an opportunity to share experiences in the sector.

The event opened with a brief address from Jim Stephenson, the Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Access to Justice Committee. This was followed by an opportunity for each of the roundtables to discuss a variety of topics related to pro bono or ADR. These topics included: matching services with unmet need; encouraging participation in projects; coordination between advice and legal sectors; regulating Pro bono services; insurance for pro bono services and the role of the law society.

These discussions were followed by a presentation from Gil Long from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) who highlighted lessons that could be learnt from the successful relationship between CAB’s based in Glasgow and Glasgow University.

James Anderson reflected on the event saying:

“The Access to Justice Roundtable event showcased the willingness of the Law Society of Scotland to not only support current pro bono initiatives, but to help remedy the obstacles hindering the progress of pro bono within Scotland. I left the event feeling refreshed and motivated to continue striving towards the goal of providing access to justice.”

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic is proud to be involved in any work that seeks to improve access to justice and looks forward to attending future events from the Law Society of Scotland’s Access to Justice Committee. 

Law Clinic’s Asylum Project Hosts Forum Theatre Event

On 21 June 2019, The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic’s ‘The Asylum Project’ hosted the event: ‘So you say you come from…? Prove it!’ as part of Refugee Festival Scotland. The event highlighted how easy it can be for displaced people to fall through the cracks and end up stateless in a hostile environment.

The event started with interactive sessions aimed at testing memory and credibility, followed by a forum theatre piece based on a fictionalised asylum interview. The session demonstrated how nationality is assessed by the Home Office and gave the audience the chance to think about whether or not they would pass as nationals of their own country. It also showed the difficulties faced by someone whose nationality is disputed by the Home Office, and how difficult it can be to challenge this. 

Kirstie Webb reflected on the event saying:

“It was a pleasure to take part in such an important event, hosted by The Asylum Project (TAP). Participating in the forum theatre provided a small insight into the issues faced by our clients in asylum claims regarding nationality. I believe that exposure to these issues is essential to raise awareness and highlight how easy it can be to end up stateless.”

The T.A.P project will also be performing on 3 August 2019 as part of the JustFestival at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information or to sign up, follow the link.

Strathclyde Law Clinic Welcomes Brazilian Lecturers

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic welcomes visiting lecturers from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná (PUCPR) and UniCesumar in Brazil.

(From left to right: Andrew Burns, Andreia Colhado Gallo, Zoe Law, Carly Morrison, Benjamin Dickson, James Anderson and Bruno Grego Santos)

On Tuesday 16 July 2019, the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic welcomed Professor Bruno Grego Santos Ph.D. and Ms. Andreia Colhado Gallo, LL.M. The purpose of the visit was to share information and experiences, and to develop links between law clinics globally.

Both of the visiting academics are partners at law firms in Brazil, while also lecturing at their respective universities. Professor Santos and Ms. Gallo were particularly interested in the development of the Strathclyde Law Clinic’s Clinical LLB Course (CLLB) and are keen to see a similar programme implemented at their own universities.

Available since 2011, the CLLB is a unique programme that allows students to use what they have experienced through their practical casework at the Law Clinic to enhance their academic learning. 

Professor Santos and Ms. Gallo were interested in the experience of students involved in both the CLLB and Law Clinic more generally. The visit concluded with a tour of the Law Clinic offices located on campus.   

The successful visit was organised by Mr. Andrew Burns, a University of Strathclyde CLLB graduate and former Law Clinic student, who visited both PUCPR and UniCesumar in 2018.

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic looks forward to developing its relationship with UniCesumar and PUCPR, and to connecting with other law clinics in the UK and globally.

Law Clinic Students Deliver Presentation to Strathclyde Carers Group

Two student advisors from the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic delivered an informative talk with to members of the University of Strathclyde carers group.

(Law Clinic Student Advisors: Jordan Hamlett and Eilidh Campbell) 

Two student advisors, Eilidh Campbell and Jordan Hamlett delivered a talk to members of the University of Strathclyde carers group on 14 June 2019. The talk primarily consisted of relevant information regarding Powers of Attorney and Guardianship orders.

Once the student advisors had completed their presentation, there was an opportunity for questions. This was an informative and constructive session with great discussion informed by the real life experiences of those in attendance.  The event, organised by Shona McIntosh, was the second time our students presented to a carers group at Strathclyde.

Jordan Hamlett reflected on the talk saying:

“The event was a phenomenal experience for both myself and Eilidh, we had a lovely time presenting to some of the carers of the University of Strathclyde and it was great to see such a lively discussion about people’s experiences.”

Strathclyde Law Students gain first hand experience on Miami Exchange 2019

Four students along with two staff members from the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic have recently returned from an educational exchange with the University of Miami Health Rights Law Clinic.

(From left to right: Kate Laverty, Ben Dickson, Karen Yuill, Susan Fallone, Eilidh Campbell and James Anderson)

James Anderson, Karen Yuill, Eilidh Campbell, Ben Dickson, Susan Fallone (supervisor) and Kate Laverty (Director) spent four days in May absorbing the work conducted by the students of Miami’s Clinic.

All had different reasons for wanting to participate in the exchange. James said: “As part of my role both as Student Director and as a member of the Law Clinic’s Executive Committee, I continuously seek ways to improve both the outreach and efficiency of the casework conducted. Consequently, I was excited at the prospect of gaining first-hand experience observing how a specialist Law Clinic operates in practice, using this insight to ultimately improve the service provided by the Strathclyde Law Clinic.”

Karen said: “I wanted to participate in the Miami exchange as I wanted to see how the Health Rights Clinic differed from ours and to see if there was any learnings I could take from the visit. Also to highlight to the Miami students all the great work that we do here. An exchange of best practices if you like.”

Eilidh said: “There are few Law Clinics in Scotland of comparable size to Strathclyde so I was interested to see how another big clinic operates and how their specific context affects how they provide access to justice.”  

Arriving on Sunday 19 May, they were treated to a welcome dinner at Montys Raw Bar then headed to the hotel for the night. The students were introduced to the Miami University Health Rights Clinic, which is a specialist clinic, time was then spent on finishing off presentations.

(Miami University Law School)

On Tuesday 21 May, the students got the chance to see client intake at the South Florida Aids Network where they sat in on client meetings. Eilidh said: “It was interesting to observe the Health Right’s Clinic’s initial interview process, especially as they take place in the hospitals with which their clients are familiar. The problems affecting their clients were very different but the underlying causes were surprisingly similar.” The group had some spare time in the evening to explore the sights and sounds of Miami.

On the last day of the exchange the students experienced the cultural side of Miami. They took in the natural beauty of the city with a kayak tour at the Virginia Key Outdoor Centre. They had a farewell dinner at Bakan Wynwood before enjoying a final night with the Miami students.

The experience has opened the eyes of the students as to what could be incorporated into Clinic life at Strathclyde.

Ben said: “The Miami Law Clinic is extremely connected to the most vulnerable members of the local community, their referral procedure in which medical staff working at the hospital refer potential clients to the Miami Health Rights Law Clinic ensures they are providing justice to those most in need. Whereas at Strathclyde most of our clients are referred to us from other members of the legal community. Subsequently, I believe it would be interesting to see if we could attempt to use organisations out-with the legal community to refer potential clients to the law clinic, In order to ensure we are assisting those within our local community who are most in need.”

STUDENTS AND STAFF ATTEND ANNUAL SCOTTISH UNIVERSITIES LAW CLINIC NETWORK CONFERENCE

Student advisors, together with the Director and Director of the Clinical LLB, from the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic recently attended the annual Student Universities Law Clinic Networking Conference (SULCN) on 7 June 2019.

(President of the Law Society of Scotland, John Mulholland delivering a speech at SULCN 2019)

The event, hosted this year by Edinburgh Napier Law Clinic, was established in 2012 with the aim of encouraging Law Clinics across Scotland to share ideas and work together to improve access to justice.

The event opened with a speech from John Mulholland, the recently appointed President of the Law Society of Scotland, following which each clinic gave a brief update on recent developments and operational changes. This opened up discussion on the numerous challenges involved in running a Law Clinic, including access to funding and the challenges faced by students who combine pro bono work with their academic studies.

In the afternoon, attendees enjoyed workshops on interview skills delivered by Barry Nichol and Alun Thomas of Anderson Strathearn; and a workshop on mediation given by Robin Burley and Lindsay Burley of Mediation Scotland.

The conference also saw the current Chair of SULCN, Malcolm Combe of Aberdeen University, hand the reins to Rebecca Samaras of the University of Edinburgh who will now take on the role of Chair.

The day concluded with an inspiring speech by John Sturrock QC who highlighted the opportunities presented by mediation as a dispute resolution method.

Eilidh Campbell, one of the student representatives attending the conference on behalf of the Strathclyde Law Clinic reflected on the event stating:

“The conference was a fantastic learning experience for all students in attendance, as we were provided with a platform to actively engage with contributors from across the Scottish access to justice community. I found the event highly motivating and look forward to using this motivation to assist the Strathclyde Law Clinic over the summer.”