Student Reflection: Assisting a Client at Judicial Mediation

Diploma student and Law Clinic Student Advisor Eilidh writes about her recent experience at Judicial Mediation. 

“Judicial Mediation is becoming an increasingly popular way of resolving disputes in the Employment Tribunal. It involves the parties to a claim and their legal representatives spending a day together trying to resolve the dispute in a way that everyone is happy with. The mediator is a tribunal judge who has been trained as a mediator. While it sounds like a straightforward concept, my experience accompanying clients to mediation has taught me that it is every bit as challenging as the tribunal hearing process.  Because it is open to the parties to discuss any issues they think are relevant, it is impossible to predict what will happen on the day and advisors have to be prepared for all eventualities. Here at the Law Clinic, the majority of our cases are employment ones (59% in the last session) and so a number of our advisors have accompanied clients to Judicial Mediation. In my time at the Law Clinic I have accompanied two separate clients to Judicial Mediation, one last year and one this year.

(Law Clinic members at the Clinic’s 2020 Away Day, not a picture of the Judicial Mediation)

“An advantage of the process is that the resolutions reached can be much more creative than that awarded by the tribunal, which is restricted by the powers of the tribunal. In mediation, the parties can agree anything they want to, which could include for example that managers will receive further training, for example on how to manage employees with a disability. 

“The tribunal process can be very adversarial and a lot of the disputes we see could have been prevented through better communication and trust between the parties. The tribunal process can often make that situation worse by creating this conflict between the parties. Mediation takes the opposite approach and tries to rebuild that trust and communication wherever possible while deescalating the conflict. This is particularly helpful for clients who remain in employment and are keen to keep the relationship with their employer as positive as possible in the future.”

Summing up her experience of Judicial Mediation, Eilidh notes:

“I found the process makes it possible to discuss things that clients would not normally get to talk about in the tribunal process. For example, they have an opportunity to explain in their own words the impact the case has had on them. Saying this to their employer/former employer in the more relaxed setting of mediation and not in a tribunal process where they will be cross-examined by the other party’s solicitor can be a really therapeutic thing. Even if no resolution is reached on the day, clients usually feel relieved to have said what they want to say. It is a long and exhausting day for both advisors and clients but overall I found the Judicial Mediation process to be a helpful one in obtaining good outcomes for our clients.”

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Strathclyde Law Clinic’s Prisons Project

Since September 2019, student members of the Prisons Project have visited HMP Low Moss prison 20 times, engaging with approximately 10-15 prisoners a week.

During these visits students provide prisoners with information about their employment rights following release and how the law affects these rights. Through this initiative Student volunteers have provided this information to over 200 prisoners since September 2019. 

Emelia Conner, Prisons Project Coordinator

Emelia Conner, the Prisons Project Co-ordinator, describes the progression and growth of the project:

Moving forward, we are looking at the possibility of presenting to prisoners that are soon to be released as well as prisoners that have just arrived in prison, as we currently do. We hope this will lead to an even wider circle of prisoners understanding their rights.

“Having started the year with just 1 member, there are now 5 students involved with the project, yet we are always looking for new members to join. Before Christmas, we were given a tour of the prison and shown around the workshops and education centre which was very worthwhile as it gave us a better understanding of what goes on inside the prison and out with the area that we present in. 

“Overall the relationship with the prison has been very positive this year and they greatly enjoy when the project visits and provide a presentation. Some of the guards have heard the presentation so many times that they know it better than us. In addition, the teachers from the education department have been sitting in on our presentation because word has spread to them that it is very informative.”

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Law Clinic Director attends Conference at the University of Hong Kong

In October 2019 Law Clinic Director, Kate Laverty, attended a conference to celebrate 50 years of the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong.

“I was delighted to be invited to a Conference in Hong Kong, in October 2019, to celebrate 50 years of the Faculty of Law at The University of Hong Kong. The conference was on Experiential Learning and Innovations in Legal Education.  It drew on the experience of a number of experts in this field from various parts of the world including, China, USA, Australia, Hong Kong, and the UK. We also heard from those in other disciplines in Hong Kong including medicine, dentistry, and education all of which gave a very interesting insight to different approaches to experiential learning.

“Many different approaches to legal education were discussed from Monash University whose students are guaranteed participation in a Clinical programme to the use of simulation in others. Some talked about advances in AI and how we should prepare our students for developments of this nature. Tania Leiman from Flinders University, Australia teaches classes on Law in a Digital Age (which includes building AI legal apps to increase access to justice) and Law in Action (which includes a law reform clinic working on legal implications of emerging technologies). Sun Yat Sen’s University Clinic had similarities to ours at Strathclyde in that it is involved in labour rights and their students represent their clients in courts and tribunals.

Pictured above: Speakers at the Conference.

“It was fantastic to hear about what was going on in teaching and Clinics in various parts of the world and our University of Hong Kong hosts were extremely warm and welcoming and organised a very informative and interesting conference. We wish them all the best for the next 50 years.

“It was particularly nice for me to return to Hong Kong having lived and worked there for a few years in the early nineties. It is a very vibrant and interesting city and we hope that it manages to resolve its recent difficulties in the near future.”

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Law Clinic Initial Advisor Training 2019

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic recently concluded its Initial Advisor Training.

2019/20 Intake with Training Officer Anthony Pace and Deputy Training Officer Abdullah Kayani

A total of 39 new advisers were successfully trained over four sessions designed to brief new advisers on all aspects of the Clinic’s work.

Sessions involved exercises designed to teach interviewing skills, introductions to legal research with Charles Hennessy who is the Academic Director of the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at the university, and Professional Ethics lessons with Clinical LLB Director Rhonda Wheate. Mock interviews and letter writing lessons allowed new members to develop skills which will aid them throughout their time at the Clinic and beyond.

Following feedback from previous years’ intakes, sessions at this year’s IAT were reimagined to place a greater emphasis on practical and interactive exercises to make the training more engaging for trainees to make sure they got the most out of each session.

Charles Hennessy delivering a session on legal research skills

New members were given the opportunity to meet each other as well as existing members of the Clinic, and were enthusiastic and hard-working. Several of the new intake are already getting involved at the Clinic including taking on case work, attending IACs and taking part in the Clinic’s many projects.

Training Officer Anthony Pace commented on the success of the training; ‘The Clinic would like to thank the many existing members who volunteered to help with many of the IAT sessions. Without their help successfully running this year’s IAT would not have been possible.”

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Strathclyde Law Clinic Supervisor Finalist for Herald Society Award

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic was delighted to attend the recent Herald Society Award Finals.

(From left to right: Student Director’s James Anderson and Kirstie Webb and Supervising Solicitor Gillian Melville)

On Wednesday 6 November 2019, Law Clinic Supervisor Gillian Melville, Student Director James Anderson and Student Director Kirstie Webb attended the Herald Society Awards 2019.  Gillian Melville, Supervising Solicitor at The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic had been shortlisted as a finalist in the category: Herald Society Worker of the Year.

The Awards, run in association with Wheatley Group recognise and celebrate the dedication, imagination and the vital impact of the best work taking place in the public and voluntary sectors throughout Scotland. We would like to congratulate all prize winners for the incredible work they have accomplished within Scotland and the prizes they won are a true reflection of the effort they put in to improving their community.

James Anderson reflected on the event saying:

“On behalf of all students who volunteer at the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic I would like to say a massive congratulations to Gillian for this nomination. She is a fantastic supervising solicitor, guiding students with her wealth of knowledge while remaining a calm and reassuring presence to students across all stages of their degree.

Her nomination is a testament to her passion, dedication and commitment to providing access to justice, positively influencing the lives of both clients and students. Furthermore, while she did not win the overall award, her nomination shows how much value is placed on the work she does at the Law Clinic.”

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Law Clinic AGM 2019

The Law Clinic recently held its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 23 October 2019 in the McCance Building. The event was well attended by members across all years attending in addition to Law Clinic alumni.  

(Law Clinic AGM Award Winners From Left to Right: Scott MacDonald, Robert Dorrian, Claire Thomson. Anthony Pace, Rebecca Farquhar, Elspeth Drysdale, Eilidh Campbell, Ben Dickson)

The AGM opened with an introduction from Law Clinic Director Kate Laverty followed by Student Directors James Anderson and Kirstie Webb who provided a review of Session 2018/19. Notably, the Law Clinic won/saved its clientele a total of £154,800 over the reporting period – a record high. This sum means that the Clinic has now won/saved its clients a total of £1,100,000 since its creation in 2003. For further information regarding Law Clinic Session 2018/19 please follow this link in order to access the Law Clinic Annual Report: https://www.lawclinic.org.uk/publications/annual-reports

Some of the most important awards in each clinic session are those that we award internally to the students that allow the clinic to operate so effectively. These are traditionally awarded at our AGM.

This year, the award winners were as follows:

Best Newcomer: Claire Thomson

Best Project Work: Robert Dorrian and Scott MacDonald  

Best Case: Elspeth Drysdale and Kara Toal

Best Case Work: Eilidh Campbell  

The Amanda Benstock Award for Compassion: Ben Dickson 

The Effie Shaw Award for Dedication: Anthony Pace

Best Overall Contribution: Rebecca Farquhar

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Strathclyde Law Clinic Supervisor Shortlisted for Herald Society Award

We are delighted to announce that Gillian Melville, supervising solicitor at The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic has been shortlisted as a finalist in the category:  Herald Society Worker of the Year – for The Herald Society Awards 2019.

The awards will be presented at a formal dinner on the evening of Wednesday 6 November, 2019.

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Another Successful Street Law Training Session!

The Law Clinic welcomed Professor David McQuoid-Mason, an internationally recognised expert in Street Law from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who conducted a Street Law training session for Law Clinic members.

During the course of the training session, Professor McQuoid-Mason covered a wide range of subject areas with a focus on enabling those in attendance to be able to lead a Street Law training session themselves. Early in the session he made the point that one of the most effective ways of learning is through activities which underpinned his entire approach to the session.

The training session included a variety of activities including a mini-moot, where trainees were presented with a scenario and took on the roles of lawyers for the plaintiff and respondent who presented their arguments to a third trainee who acted as a judge. For instance, there was an exercise in which trainees were asked to argue for or against a proposition e.g. a second Scottish independence referendum.

(From left to right: Victoria Hodges, Carly Morrison, Professor David McQuoid-Mason, Katie Gardner and Anthony Pace)

Training Officer Anthony Pace said; ‘The session was a great success which all of the trainees thoroughly enjoyed. As well as helping the trainees develop new skills and confidence, it has encouraged them to take part in the Clinic’s Street Law programme.’

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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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