My Experience Volunteering at the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre

Law Clinic student advisor Rebecca Tait, and a new member of the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre advisor writes about her experience with the SWRC.

‘’The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC) has been a collaborative effort between the Law Clinic, Just Right Scotland and Rape Crisis Scotland since 2015. It exists to give advice to women suffering from gender-based violence and helps them navigate various legal routes to protect themselves. A vital element to the collaboration’s success is the use of helplines. As a student volunteer since the beginning of the year, these helplines are my main responsibility and I cannot emphasise their importance enough. 

Rebecca Tait, Law Clinic Student Advisor and SWRC volunteer

“These helplines allow women to speak with a solicitor in confidence, free of charge. This broadens legal access for women who maybe be in very upsetting and difficult situations. The service is vital for many women who may be unable to leave the house or who are having their income controlled by a partner. As a student volunteer, I help the solicitor take notes for the case management system, and sometimes help with research. The variety of issues that appear in the helpline are vast and the calls are always different. The training sessions we had to attend at the beginning of the year were designed to help us understand some of these topics in more depth.’’

Furthermore, reflecting on her experience Rebecca notes:

“the prevalence of domestic abuse and gender-based violence in Scotland is something that took me a while to get my head around. There are areas in which the law is lacking still, and it is in these areas where the SWRC is trying to enforce positive change. I am honoured to be a part of this collaboration and would encourage other clinic members to take part if they are ever given the opportunity.”

To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.

My First Year at Strathclyde Law Clinic

Chloe Docherty, a first year LLB student, has recently joined the Law Clinic in our newest intake 2019/2020 and has written the following article about her experience so far:

“After a written online application and an interview, I was delighted and honoured to find out that I had become an advisor at the Law Clinic of Strathclyde. Shortly after, I participated in the training. This was extremely helpful and covered a large range of topics. For example, we received training on how to approach meeting your first client and things you can make them do to feel at ease, such as body language. We also learned about Data Protection and client confidentiality.

Chloe Docherty, student advisor at the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic

“When the opportunity arose to get my first case I jumped at it. The Law Clinic has an incredible atmosphere. When first entering I felt anxious.  However, everyone in the Law Clinic is there to help other people and are very kind. Immediately after introducing myself to everyone I knew that I could approach anyone at the Law Clinic for advice. The initial interview was the first part of my new case. It entailed my co-advisors and I listening to the client explain their case. I learned that one of the most important factors in an interview is to make the client feel as comfortable as possible. As it is already a difficult time for them, it is vital that they feel that you are engaging with them and they can trust you with their issue.

“I faced some challenges as well as learning a lot as my first case moved forward. As the case was on an employment issue, I became more familiar with employment law and the tribunal process. However, one of the challenges I faced was being honest with the client on the probability of their case being successful and attempting to handle this in the most sensitive way possible. I found this difficult but the training provided helped me in understanding that different approaches may suit different people. The Law Clinic has helped me not only learn about different subject matter and knowledge, but it has taught me about myself, such as time management skills, how to approach sensitive situations and how to work as part of a team. I look forward to taking on more cases within the Law Clinic.

To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.

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.”

To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.

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.”

To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.

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

To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.

Law Clinic Shortlisted for Pro-Bono Award! – The Herald Law Awards of Scotland 2019

We are delighted to announce that The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic has been shortlisted as a finalist in the category: Pro-Bono Award – for The Herald Law Awards of Scotland 2019.

The awards will be presented at a black-tie awards dinner on the evening of Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at Doubletree by Hilton, Glasgow Central.

To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.

Law Clinic Away Day 2019

On 9 August 2019 the Law Clinic held its annual away day in the Stenhouse Wing at Strathclyde University to discuss the aims of the clinic for the upcoming year.

Student advisors and staff members took part in team building exercises, brainstorming ideas, debated how to improve existing processes and made important policy decisions, all aimed at continuing the success of the law clinic.

The key aim of the Law Clinic is to provide access to justice to those who would otherwise go without; with this in mind, we used this as a starting point for our discussions.

The topics discussed covered a wide range of areas including client feedback and student experience. We analysed statistics gathered from both, focussing on changes we could make in order to maximise both the client and student experience.

All participants collaborated to create achievable action points for the year ahead. These action points will form the basis for the Law Clinic’s strategy in 2019/20.

One of the student attendees of the event, Kirstie Webb, reflected:

 “The Away Day 2019 was extremely successful in determining specific action points that we would like to achieve in our 2019/20 strategy. Student advisors proposed some refreshing changes to be implemented in the year ahead regarding student engagement and our standard of service. It was inspiring to be part of such a productive day and hopefully these ideas will create a good foundation for our structure in the year ahead.”

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.

To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.

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.’

To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.

A Day in the Life of a Summer Student – Karen Yuill

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.

“Working in the clinic over the summer has been a fantastic opportunity to help those most in need of our services. Access to Justice doesn’t stop for the summer break.

This is a time where my casework increases so that we continue to maintain the level of service that we provide throughout the academic year. Not only do we work on our cases, but we help each other when required, this leads to the sharing of cases, ideas and learnings.

Day to day working is varied as you just never know what will happen on your day, telephone calls from clients, emails from other parties or even having to help another student with their case. This is a great insight into what may await us once our studies are completed.

Cases I have worked on over the summer placement included Employment, Housing and Simple Procedure. I attended the Employment Tribunal to conclude a four day hearing, as well as a Judicial Mediation. Further, a case that has been with me for some time, is now going to Mediation in the hope that we can achieve a resolution for both parties.

I would just like to add that I would highly recommend that any students in the clinic who wish to further enhance their learnings apply for these placements as they are invaluable.”

To receive monthly updates on the work completed by the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic straight to your email, please sign up here.