Volunteer Solicitors Needed: University of Strathclyde Law Clinic

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic is looking for volunteer solicitors to help with our twice monthly drop-in legal advice surgeries.

Established in 2003, the Law Clinic is a student-run organisation which seeks to provide access to justice in Glasgow and the surrounding areas.

Our Initial Advice Clinics (IACs) operate on the first Wednesday and third Monday of every month from 6pm – 8pm in its office at 40 George Street, University of Strathclyde. Run by student volunteers, these sessions are an important way for individuals to receive free, on-the-spot, initial legal advice.

There is an ever increasing demand for legally trained professionals to provide advice during these surgeries. We are currently looking for both generalist and specialist solicitors who are able to commit to attending one IAC session per month, as a minimum, but to more sessions if willing and able. The subject matter can vary widely but we are particularly looking for solicitors who are able to provide advice on the following areas of law:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Simple Procedure
  • Contract
  • Consumer

For more details on this volunteering opportunity please contact Rebecca Farquhar or Chloe Morgan (student volunteers) at: lawclinic@strath.ac.uk by 30 September 2019.

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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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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.

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.”

Law Clinic Runner Up at LawWorks and Attorney General Awards 2019

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic was delighted to receive the runner-up position and was awarded Highly Commended in the ‘Best LegalTech Contribution’ category.

(From left to right, Student Director Kirstie Webb, Director Kate Laverty and Communications Officer Jordan Hamlett)

On Wednesday 1 May 2019, Law Clinic Director Kate Laverty, Student Director Kirstie Webb and Communications Officer Jordan Hamlett travelled to London for the LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards 2019. The Law Clinic had been shortlisted in two categories: Best contribution by a team of students and Best LegalTech contribution respectively.

The Awards, run by LawWorks with the support of the Attorney General, the Rt Hon Geoffrey Cox QC MP, recognise and celebrate the outstanding pro bono work undertaken by law schools and law students across the UK.

The event was held at the House of Commons member’s dining room, opening with a speech from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox which focused on the importance of pro bono work, specifically the contribution made by students.

Kirstie Webb reflected on the experience saying:

“It was a privilege to represent the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic at this year’s awards ceremony. To be in the presence of so many Law Clinic’s and organisations providing access to justice throughout the UK was truly inspiring and it was a heartening experience to hear so many success stories.”

Scottish Ministerial visit to the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC) to announce expansion


(From left to right: [1st person], Katy Mathieson,Sarah Crawford, Ash Denford, Kate Laverty and Jen Ang)

The Scottish Women Rights Centre (SWRC); a collaboration between the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, JustRight Scotland and Rape Crisis Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Minister for Community Safety and Affairs, Ash Denham to the offices of JustRight Scotland and their new helpline premises.

The Scottish Government has announced the expansion of the SWRC through funding by The Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Justice Fund. This expansion will allow the SWRC to increase their capacity to provide legal and advocacy support to women who have been affected by gender-based violence. This expansion has allowed for an increase of staff and two legal surgeries to be established in Dundee and Inverness later this year.

(From left to right: Sarah Crawford [SWRC Lead Solicitor] and Ash Denham [Scottish Minister for Community Safety and Affairs])

The Director of the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, Kate Laverty commented on the expansion stating: 

“The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic is very excited about the expansion of the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre. Through their involvement with the Centre, our volunteer law students have gained invaluable experience and developed specialised legal skills and knowledge about the experiences of women who have been affected by gender-based violence and are trying to navigate the legal system.

“Exposure to these issues at this stage in their legal careers will mean they have a much improved awareness of the difficulties faced by women which will inform their practice in future years.”