Advisor News: SYLA x Panel

By Anna Gren

Last Tuesday, I travelled through to the CMS office in Edinburgh to speak on behalf of the Clinic and (PBS) about the Pro Bono work I am involved in. This event was coordinated by the Scottish Young Lawyers Association in connection with Pro Bono Week 2023.

The key theme was “Changing Lives Through Pro Bono” and we discussed the importance of doing Pro Bono work in the legal field, especially with the decline of Legal Aid support.

I was joined by an advocate, Emma Boffey and trainee, Jay Elder, who also offered an interesting insight into how Pro Bono has transformed their careers.

A key takeaway from the discussion personally was a statement made by Emma. From the minute we become law students, we are highly skilled individuals with the ability to help those in less fortunate positions than ourselves. Spending a few hours a week might not mean much to us, but for many of our clients, it means the world. This really reinforced the positive impact we as students can have on the wider community and the importance of offering the services we do at the Clinic.

In an ideal world, Pro Bono work would not exist due to sufficient funding in the legal sector. However, this is not the case and we as students have a real opportunity to make an impact with the work we do. It takes someone with real drive and passion to advocate for others, and this discussion emphasised the significance of getting involved.

A huge thank you to everyone involved in the event. It was a great opportunity to discuss something which I believe is fundamental in the legal field.

Pro Bono Week: London Trip

By Anna Gren

On the 9th of November, myself and four other advisors from the Clinic travelled down to London for a Pro Bono Week event hosted by at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, featuring a talk from Dame Elizabeth Gardner KC (Hon), parliamentary counsel.

The event offered a great insight into the work law clinics are doing across the country as well as the work practising solicitors and Parliament are doing to promote access to justice. Dame Elizabeth Gardiner stressed the importance of Pro Bono work in light of funding being cut for Legal Aid across the country, as those undertaking this work are a key element of the legal profession. Without law clinics and solicitors offering Pro Bono work, many clients would be left unrepresented, unheard and unable to move forward. Therefore, it is paramount that the work we do is accessible and digestible for all clients. 

Another key element of the discussion around Pro Bono work was how we define success. As quoted “don’t measure your success in wins and losses, but in the access to justice you are providing for your clients.” As advisors, it is important to remember that a win for a client may not always be a monetary value, but the feeling of being valued and listened to. Many clients will have nowhere else to turn and so by listening to and empathising with clients, this can already be a small win in their mind.

Pro Bono Week 2023 was centred around how Pro Bono work changes lives. By offering free legal advice and representation to clients, we are helping to overcome the barrier in accessing justice for clients in Glasgow and the surrounding areas. As the week draws to a close, it is important to remember the impact we as advisors have on the wider community and just how needed this work is. 

A big thanks to and Akin for arranging for us to attend. It was great to see all of the fantastic pro bono work going on in law clinics across the country!

Pro Bono Week: Celebrating Pro Bono

By Gillian Melville, Clinic Supervisor

“The meeting of two people is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Carl Jung

One of this year’s themes for pro bono week is changing lives. At Strathclyde Law Clinic, we know that people can be profoundly impacted by pro bono legal services, not just by being given legal advice, but by the simple act of someone listening to their story and taking them seriously, irrespective of their financial situation. This not only improves access to justice but, on a personal level, increases feelings of empowerment and autonomy which, as one of our alumni put it, is an important psychological effect of pro bono legal services.

However, as we have witnessed first-hand at the clinic, it is not only the recipients of advice who are impacted by this process. Those who volunteer their time to provide legal advice are also changed. At our recent event celebrating the clinic’s 20th birthday, we were overjoyed to see so many of our alumni, people who all at some point during their legal studies used their burgeoning knowledge to help someone navigate unfamiliar legal territory. Simultaneously, they did the same. They tested themselves in the legal world at a formative stage, assuming the role and duties of a lawyer whilst still a student, and in the process began to shape their future professional identity.

As those who attended the 20 year event will have heard, the law clinic was set up with the aim not only of improving access to justice but also to expose lawyers-to- be to these issues at an early stage of their career. The hope was that this would embed in them a sense of fairness and compassion, and a future commitment to pro bono as fully qualified lawyers. As our founder said at the event, it was therefore very heartening to see so many alumni continue to engage with the clinic, through participation in its supervisory committee, giving advice at our evening drop ins, and providing training and much valued support to our current student volunteers.

Law clinics would not function without its volunteers and all the hours that are dedicated not only to legal advice provision but also to the many other tasks that come with running an advice-giving organisation. While we cannot win every case, the impact this dedication has on the clients, who are at the heart of it all, is immeasurable. As one client says:

“Law clinics are fantastic institutions. The atmosphere and camaraderie is amazing, with people all helping each other and rooting for the success of their fellow students’ cases. [I came to the clinic] through unfortunate circumstances but I have met such wonderful people, and that changed my life.”

Happy pro bono week everyone!

Pro Bono Week: beyond pro bono work

By Jasleen Kaur
In honour of Pro Bono Week, I would like to highlight the various ways in which we can promote access to justice, beyond pro bono casework. When undertaking pro bono work, there is a crisis. You start seeing both sides of the legal profession – the side obsessed with billable hours and the side obsessed with the facilitation of access to justice. It’s a duality that keeps me up at night, as I, like most people, see the value in both. So how do we reach our material goals but also facilitate access to justice? The only answer I can come up with is using your strengths to enable empowerment instead of dependencies.
Stephen Wexler wrote an insightful article on practising law for financially and socially vulnerable people, which he refers to as “poverty law.” It’s worth noting that we all have the potential to become vulnerable at some point in our lives, and it’s important to understand that this is not a fixed state. Wexler offers solutions that go beyond traditional pro bono work and utilize a variety of skill sets. For those who are natural leaders and organizers, he suggests creating networks of resources and organizations within impoverished communities. For those with a passion for writing, creating simple and easy-to-understand legal resources is a great option. For those who enjoy teaching, demystifying the law can be incredibly helpful. Those who enjoy advocacy can train others in confrontation, while those with a nurturing instinct can foster communities.
Access to justice is something that all legal professionals can work towards, whether they are scholars, students, or solicitors. Instead of dismissing the idea of pro bono work as something that “they” do, we should take a closer look at ourselves and how we can use our unique strengths to help others gain access to justice.

Pro Bono Week: ‘Changing lives through Pro Bono’ – My experience in the Law Clinic

By Basmah Hussain

I have been a student advisor at the law clinic since the first year of my Scots Law degree, and although I have little experience in casework and projects compared to my peers, I can safely say my experience has been invaluable, nonetheless.

The Law clinic perfectly encapsulates what it means to ‘change lives through pro bono’ in the work that it allows students to do. It creates a place in which those who have exhausted all means in their legal problems can feel heard after their voices have been silenced time and time again. This is what I believe is the most rewarding aspect of partaking in pro bono legal work. It is the acknowledgement of clients expressing their gratitude for finally being able to say their piece and have someone understand.

I believe it is important to understand that success in a case should not just be seen in the monetary gain or a judgement given that is in favour of your client, but more importantly in how you adhere to your client and if your advice and meetings make them feel seen.

I have experienced this in the current case I am on, as my client expressed, they were relieved to have finally been listened to and have the chance to advocate for themselves when this is normally a challenge for them.  

When in a situation where you may not have the means to afford or easily access legal advice, which many of our clients are faced with, you can feel hopeless and isolated. It can make an already stressful situation more of a burden on your shoulders and this is why pro bono work is a much-needed service in our society. A society in which people with different socioeconomic backgrounds should all be able to thrive.

Pro bono work directly responds to the need for increased access to justice. A lack of access to justice is created by many factors such as the unawareness of what rights you have, the lack of awareness of legal processes and the inability to access resources. Many people also have a misconception of how time-consuming legal proceedings can be which deters them from beginning them at all. This factor tied in with legal costs makes the law inaccessible to those who cannot afford it. For example, ELP solicitors charge £250 for an initial advice meeting and a further charge of £1430 for up to 10 hours of work which is understandably a daunting amount for many. The cases we deal with in the law clinic are overwhelmingly employment cases, and so our provision of free legal advice and other assistance, allows our clients to access justice irrespective of their financial positions.

Clients almost always come in for their initial interview with the belief that they have been wronged in some way, an injustice in itself.

However, advisors can quickly discover there are many more injustices at play. This is again due to the lack of awareness of basic rights employees, tenants, homeowners and sometimes simply humans are afforded. Thus, for the law clinic to be able to provide free legal advice and representation for cases to do with employment or housing amongst others, it successfully plays its part in advancing access to justice for all.

I am so grateful to be a part of an institution that prides itself on helping the less fortunate in our communities. Not only does it provide students with transferrable skills and hands-on experience in the legal sector, but it also benefits people in ways that can give them hope and turn their lives around.

It creates a symbiotic relationship between student advisors and clients which is such an attractive aspect of pro bono work.

Pro bono legal services protect the principle that if law is subject to everyone it should be accessible to everyone.


By Laura Nicol, Student Director

I am just beginning my 4th year of volunteering at the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic alongside my clinical LLB, and recently, I got my very first thank you card from a client.

It was an employment case of constructive dismissal, with elements of disability discrimination, and we took the client on with a strike out hearing looming. We were able to get past the strike out hearing and then went on to get a good result for our client.

I, and two fellow co-advisors conducted a lot of prep in a short amount of time for the strike out hearing, conducted the strike out hearing, drafted applications to amend, prepared to represent at a full hearing, and worked hard in settlement negotiations. We did this all while managing our own deadlines within our university, work, and personal lives. And don’t be fooled, a lot of this work is tiring, tedious, and sometimes mundane. This is nothing short of what every other advisor in the clinic does and it makes it sound like hard work. This is because it is hard work. It takes a lot of effort and organisation, and we expect nothing in return.

Why then, do us students do it. Well, I cannot speak for everyone at the clinic, but I am sure many would join me in saying that I do it is because I love it. Beyond the practical experience it gives me, it also gives me opportunity to do something meaningful with my skills.

I think what is easy to forget is that law is pretty exclusionary. Others are not taught to navigate, understand, or apply it. Yet, it affects everyone at some point in their lives. How then can we have the privilege of being taught the skills to use it, and not offer to help someone without those skills. Yes, these skills are a solicitor’s livelihood, but they are also other people’s last lifelines.

So, even though we can expect nothing in return, there is a lot on offer – meaningfulness, sense of worth, ability to assist those in need, using your specialist skills for the good of someone else, doing something you love, and sometimes, even a thank you card.

The thank you card is something I will keep forever, the first one I have ever received from someone that I helped, I assisted in getting through a tough time in their lives. Someone that would otherwise would have been unlikely to carry on with their case without my, and my co-advisors’, skills which we are lucky enough to have.

20th Anniversary Follow-Up



Firstly, we would like to say a massive thank you for attending. The turnout was impressive, and the good atmosphere was infectious. It was a brilliant opportunity to come together, consider important issues, and share valued memories of the clinic. This would not have been possible without you all.


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Some supporters of the Law Clinic choose to give a donation. Donations, big and small, keep our clinic running and we would not exist without our donors! The link to our single donations can be found here ( While single donations are greatly appreciated, regular donations allow us to plan for the future. If you are able to make a regular donation, big or small, to help us plan for the future, the link can be found here ( The University of Strathclyde is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, registration number SCO15263.


The clinic is a fantastic community that welcomes hundreds of students throughout their university career. Many of our alumni go on to work in interesting and important roles in the legal industry. In an effort to keep our alumni connected, build our clinic community, and seek opportunities for our current student members, we are putting a call out to ask our alumni if they would be willing to offer shadowing opportunities. If this is something you would be interested in helping with, please send an email to our clinic inbox ( and we will be in touch.

GlasgowTimes Public Service Awards 2023

Dear Clinic Community,

We are pleased to announce that The Law Clinic have been shortlisted for the GlasgowTimes Public Service Awards.

A public vote will determine who is further shortlisted for the Grand Final, where judges will then pick the final winner. The public vote is now open, and will close on Tuesday 31st October.

If you wish to vote for us you can do so via the following link: (you will find us in the North East category!)

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic

Criminal psychology & trauma-informed practice: a three-dimensional relationship

By Corey Beaton, Student Advisor and EDI Officer

Over the course of our recent summer break, I undertook a Diploma in Criminal Psychology through the online Centre of Excellence.  While one would think that eight months of full-time studying for an LLB (Graduate Entry) degree would beget a desire for a peaceful summer break spent on a beach somewhere, I have always worked under the shared assumption that empty hands make idle minds, and so I thought that I would put both to good use!

Criminal psychology is not a subject which I happened to stumble across one day.  I work part-time for a mental health service, Safe Harbour Inverclyde, which supports those in our community who are facing mental health issues or have suffered a past physical, mental, or sexual trauma.  In particular, working with clients who have presented the latter issues has led to us supporting them through the criminal justice system, including the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in one client’s case.

Our clients’ experiences of the Scottish criminal justice system were certainly not positive ones – delays in trial dates being fixed, poor communication between them and the other services involved, and the inevitably brutal cross-examination by the defence agents all fed into their dissatisfaction and exacerbated their mental and physical health issues, with many of whom candidly sharing their experiences with the Lord Advocate for Scotland Dorothy Bain KC and the Solicitor General Ruth Charteris KC when they visited the service, last August.

Thankfully, we are now seeing sector-wide shift towards more trauma-informed approaches to supporting victims and witnesses of crime.  Indeed, COPFS’ recent establishment of a pilot programme in domestic abuse cases heard in the summary Sheriff Courts, with a view to ensuring – among other outcomes – greater interaction between the prosecutor and the victim-survivor, has already yielded largely positive results, with 94% of reports proceeding to court.  Further proposals as outlined in Lady Dorrian’s Sexual Offences Review, such as taking evidence on commission, have also proven effective in these types of cases, with the appropriate next steps currently being considered by the Scottish Courts & Tribunal Service and the Scottish Parliament.

One such proposal includes the pilot of so-called “juryless trials” in sexual offence cases, and while it is an initiative which is considered to be controversial among many across the profession, it is important to take stock of where we currently are in terms of the prosecution of sexual offences cases:

We learned last week that, while the number of sexual assault cases had decreased by 5% in 2022-23, the number of reports of rape and attempted rape had increased by 5% during that same time; when held against the fact that the waiting time for a solemn case to be called in the High Court is almost fifty weeks, it evidently continues to be the case that justice delayed is ultimately justice denied.

When faced with the prospects of an ordeal which only serves to retraumatise them, many of us can only imagine the courage that it must take for a victim-survivor to come forward, let alone acknowledge what happened to them in the first place. The very least we can do, then, in the words of Judith Herman, is “simply to ask survivors what would make things right – or as right as possible – for them,” for theirs are the voices which should matter most in this debate.

And while this is my position in respect of victim-survivors, we should not forget about those who are alleged to have committed other types of offences under Scots law.  I say this not solely for the purpose of providing balance to this piece, but to accord with one of the tenets of the rule of law, that the law is administered and applied blindly to cases such as, among others, the recent case of HMA v Ryan McCabe in which the criminal justice social work report highlighted the prevalence of inequality, deprivation, and adverse childhood experiences (ACES) throughout the life of the accused.

I say this because psychologists like Freud, Bowlby, and Haward have all promoted their respective theories as to why some people choose to commit crimes, citing reasons such as upbringing and learned behaviours as two key contributing factors to this.  We should not forget how malleable and impressionable we all were during the formative years of our cognitive development, so nor should we simply discount these adverse experiences. Instead, a case should be heard in as impartial and holistic a way as possible to achieve this equity among the parties.

Looking ahead, insofar as the proposed Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform Bill is concerned, its contents ought to be met and debated on their merits alone.  The debate on its contents thus far has been fractious and disappointing to say the least.  As those who either have been or are about to become immersed in this field of law, we surely ought to be able to offer more to this debate than platitudes and ill-informed assertions.

To close by echoing the words of the Lord Advocate that she shared with the Criminal Justice Sub-Committee of the Scottish Parliament almost two years ago, the nexus of criminal prosecution is no longer a two-dimensional relationship between the Crown and the defence, but rather a three-dimensional one involving the Crown, defence, and the victim-survivor who came forward with their report in the first instance, all of whom share an involvement and varying experiences which we should bear in mind as we work towards a more equitable, trauma-informed, and fair justice system in Scotland.

SSSC Resources: Update

This summer the Law Clinic was very fortunate to have received a Strathclyde University Alumni fund grant to allow us to employ a student intern over the summer to develop accessible resources for workers regulated by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) undergoing Fitness to Practice proceedings. Many low paid workers cannot afford a solicitor and cannot obtain legal aid. The Law Clinic aims to plug that gap in legal service provision and creating online resources is one way of enabling workers in that situation to navigate the process.

We spoke to the two students who worked on this project about their experience. They are in the final stages of completing the resources and hope to have them posted online soon. Keep an eye out for further updates when they are on our website.


Fiona Rennie

I have worked on several SSSC cases at the Law Clinic and each one has highlighted to me the level of unmet legal need in this area. SSSC proceedings can have a huge impact on a person’s employment and wellbeing and it can be extremely daunting for a worker to navigate the process and not be represented. Unfortunately, we cannot take on all the SSSC clients who ask for our help, I hope that these online resources will help those who are unrepresented to feel slightly more prepared when dealing with SSSC proceedings. 

Scott and I started by identifying the topics which we wanted to cover. We then conducted individual research on the topics, referring to the SSSC factsheets, decisions guidance and the Fitness to Practice Rules. Our aim was to make the resources as accessible as possible but it can be tricky trying to distill a complex process. We tried to do this by avoiding using jargon and breaking the process down into separate slideshows to make each topic ‘bitesize’. We also referred to the Law Clinic’s employment law resources (you can find these resources here: to help us format and structure the information. Alongside creating these resources, I have also been working on a SSSC case. This has helped to show me which areas to focus on in our resources. 

It has been really interesting working on this project and I have enjoyed having the opportunity to contribute to the Law Clinic’s overarching aim of promoting access to justice. I have gained an in-depth understanding of SSSC processes and I hope that this will stand me in good stead for any casework I do with SSSC clients at the Law Clinic in future. 

Scott Gillanders

It has been a great opportunity to work on SSSC resources, which can be used not just for work within the Clinic, but by anyone who is involved with the SSSC. Whilst working on developing these resources, it became clear that there is a lack of proper information out there for those who are seeking it.

We have put a real focus on ensuring that our resources are easy to access and digest, whilst simultaneously containing all the information that is relevant to each topic.

We got the chance to speak to a solicitor who specialises in representing workers at SSSC hearings, who provided valuable insight into the process and practical application of the regulations. I hope that these resources can make a difference to our work in the Clinic, and also to those who are seeking reliable information regarding any issues they have encountered during the course of their registration at the SSSC.