Experience of a Summer Student – Ivy Hill

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.

(Summer Student: Ivy Hill)

This year with COVID-19 preventing us from being together in the office, our summer student roles were carried out online. Despite working from home, the law clinic still managed to keep the comfortable, close-knit working atmosphere between students and supervisors and continue to help our clients. I was hired to take on the role of legal research which meant updating all of the legal information on our website to make it more user friendly. We were very grateful to the Alumni Fund for enabling us to carry our work this summer.

Updating our website and online resources was vital this year because while our offices are closed physically, more people are relying on the website to get information about their legal issues. As a direct result of the Alumni Fund supporting this project, we now feel confident that people can look through our website and find the information they need with ease and in the case that they can’t become a client of the law clinic, we are able to direct them to the website which will help them navigate the process of their case.

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Experience of a Summer Student – Carly Morrison

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.

(Summer Student and Firm B Coordinator: Carly Morrison)

This year I was given the wonderful opportunity to work for the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic over the summer months. It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of the summer team and so rewarding.

The closing of the University of Strathclyde and subsequent lockdown of the country has provided a very different and surreal experience for the summer students this year. We are working remotely and although, I miss the chatter of the law clinic office and seeing everyone each day, working from home has allowed access to justice to continue.

The majority of my day is spent on casework. The law clinic is open all year round, so when the university closes, the summer student’s caseload increases. This has provided a great opportunity to work on a variety of different legal issues and with advisors I haven’t worked with before, albeit via the wonderful world of technology. I start my day by setting myself a to do list and prioritise my tasks, paying attention to anything particularly urgent or returning calls from clients. Despite the quiet, home office, no day is the same and usually very busy. Zoom has become very normal for us all and we are able to “meet”, help one another and share our ideas (and a coffee). In a weird way I feel as though working in this manner has strengthened the friendships within the team and brought us closer. I am extremely proud of how we have all adapted during a time that could not have been predicted, and how we have continued to provide help for our clients.

I could never thank the law clinic, it’s supervisors and my co-advisors enough for the opportunities and experiences that have been afforded to me. The summer placement has allowed me to improve and hone my skills and I would highly recommend that any students who wish to develop their knowledge apply.

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Employment Law and Disability Discrimination Resources Published

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic is proud to announce the completion of two public legal education projects to assist individuals representing themselves at the Employment Tribunal.

(Disability Discrimination Project Coordinators: Zoe Law and Eilidh Campbell)

The vast majority (59% in the last reporting period) of the Law Clinic’s advice and assistance cases concern employment law. Employment cases by their very nature are more complex than most of the other cases we deal with. Time limits are shorter and there are generally more procedural requirements. In terms of volunteer student time Employment cases require a substantially greater number of hours per case.

Subsequently, the Law Clinic does not have the resources to represent every individual who approaches us for assistance. The Employment Law Project aims to address this gap by providing the public with a step-by-step guide consisting of clear, practical advice on how to raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal. It covers everything from how to raise a grievance at work to how evidence is heard at a final hearing.

The Law Clinic has seen an increasing number of disability discrimination cases each year (disability discrimination cases making up 19.1% of all employment cases over the last reporting period). Furthermore, many facing discrimination are vulnerable and need additional support in managing their cases through the tribunal process. Therefore, the Disability Discrimination Project is aimed at providing more detailed information in order to assist employees who might raise a claim of disability discrimination against their employer. This area of the law is very complex and so the resources provide an explanation of the law in this area and aspects of Tribunal procedure which are unique to disability discrimination cases.

All resources are now available to access, free of charge, on the Law Clinic website here: https://www.lawclinic.org.uk/employment-law-resources.

The completion of the projects is the result of two years of hard work by six Law Clinic Student Advisors and one staff member. The students involved hope the resources will provide some guidance and reassurance to individuals experiencing problems at work.

Employment Law Project Coordinator, James Anderson, reflected on the completion of the online resources by saying:

“I would like to say a massive thank you and congratulations to both the students and staff who have consistently gone well beyond their expected duties in order to deliver these fantastic resources. It has been a large undertaking and one that I am delighted to have been able to oversee to its conclusion. Publishing these online resources is an important step in fulfilling the Law Clinics goal to provide access to justice to a wider audience. As my time in the Law Clinic comes to its end, I will look forward to observing the development of future online guides.

I hope that these resources will be of benefit to all unrepresented claimants seeking advice on how to navigate their way through an unfamiliar and complicated process. Furthermore, I would encourage everyone to share this resource so that it can be accessed by as many in need as possible.”

The Clinic would like to thank the Strathclyde Alumni Fund for providing funding for these projects.

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Law Clinic Executive Committee 2020-2021

Now that the 2019-2020 Academic Year is officially over it’s time to welcome the 2020-2021 Executive Committee.

Over the past two months, interviews took place to recruit the Law Clinic’s 2020-2021 Executive Committee. The Law Clinic received applications from students from all years with all candidates showing great enthusiasm.

Students are crucial to the operation and running of the Law Clinic and it is the Executive Committee who take the reigns in guiding the Law Clinic. This years interviews identified key individuals who will be at the core of the running and development of the Law Clinic especially during this time of uncertainty.

Commenting on the new Executive Committee, Law Clinic Student Directors and Deputy Student Director had this to say:

Karen Yuill (Student Director) said: “After an amazing four years as a student advisor and firm coordinator I am delighted to be one of the new Student Directors. This gives me the opportunity to give something back to the Law Clinic before I finish my academic studies. I am looking forward to seeing how the new executive committee can drive the clinic forward in these unsettling times not only for our clients but for the students also.”

Jordan Hamlett (Student Director) said: “Since joining the Law Clinic, I have always been inspired by the Student Directors and the Executive Committee for all the extraordinary work they have accomplished. They have encouraged me from day one to get more involved in the Law Clinic and provide access to justice to the community. I am thrilled to be one of the new Student Directors alongside Karen Yuill and Rebecca Dyer and ecstatic to work alongside all the highly respectable and hardworking Executive Committee members. I am eager to see how the Executive Committee develop the Law Clinic over the coming year and I hope we are able to inspire individuals to provide access to justice as I have been inspired in the past.

Rebecca Dyer (Deputy Student Director) said: “I am ecstatic to be taking on the role of Deputy Student Director. My experience in the Law Clinic so far has been unforgettable and incredibly rewarding, and I can’t wait to continue my journey in this new role. This organisation is unique and full of hardworking, dedicated students and staff. I am confident that the new executive committee will bring something special in providing access to justice to our clients and developing the Law Clinic as a whole.”

The 2020-2021 Executive Committee is made up of the following people:

  • Student Directors: Karen Yuill and Jordan Hamlett
  • Deputy Student Director: Rebecca Dyer
  • Training Officer: Mhairi Strachan
  • IAC Coordinators: Anthony Pace and Cara Hope
  • Online Project Manager: TBC
  • Communications Officer: TBC
  • Prisons Project Manager: Emelia Conner
  • The Asylum Project Coordinator: Murray Kemp
  • SWRC Coordinator: Erin Connor
  • Criminal Convictions Unit Coordinator: TBC
  • Firm Coordinator (Firm A): Nicola Maguire
  • Firm Coordinator (Firm B): Carly Morrison
  • Firm Coordinator (Firm C): Beth Muirhead
  • Firm Coordinator (Firm D): TBC
  • Firm Coordinator (Firm E): Lauryn Dawber
  • Firm Coordinator (Firm F): Daniel Leyden

Students and Staff take part in Annual Scottish Universities Law Clinic Network Event

Students and staff from the University of Strathclyde recently took part in the ninth annual Scottish University Law Clinic Network (SULCN) via zoom on 27 May.

(Hannah Cosgrove, one of the founding student members of SULCN and Strathclyde Law Clinic alumna)

The event, hosted online this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, was established in 2012 with the aim of encouraging Law Clinics across Scotland to share ideas and work together to improve access to justice.

SULCN was proud to welcome guests to a webinar led by the organizations founding student members, Eamon Keane, Hannah Cosgrove and Ryan Whelan. Throughout the event Eamon, Hannah and Ryan reflected upon their experience founding SULCN, how pro bono has affected them throughout their legal careers and how their practice has been affected as a result of the lockdown.

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

“It was fantastic that this event could be put together on short notice, continuing the relationship not only between Law Clinics but with Law Clinic alumni and The Law Society of Scotland. It’s refreshing to see that our spirit for access to justice remains undiminished despite the current circumstances.

I have been fortunate enough to attend the last three editions of the annual SULCN event and I have found the experience to be highly motivational, learning from a variety of contributors from across the Scottish access to justice community. This year was no different and it was particularly inspiring to hear from Eamon, Hannah and Ryan the three founding student members of SULCN.

Now that I am graduating from University, I will look forward to attending future SULCN Conferences as an alumni (hopefully) in person.”

Kirstie Webb, a student advisor at the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic also reflected on her experience of the event saying:

“Despite not being able to (physically) host the ninth annual SULCN conference, it was fantastic to be part of the webinar to hear from each of the founding student members of SULCN. It was both fascinating and inspiring to hear the different legal journeys of the founding members since their time at university and within SULCN. It was so encouraging to see such a large turnout to hear about the importance of pro-bono work… albeit virtually!

As my time at the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic comes to an end, I look forward to seeing the continual great work of Law Clinic’s across Scotland and the growth of SULCN.”

Please click here to find out more about SULCN, its work, members and events.

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Working from Home Under Covid-19: A Students Perspective

Law Clinic Student Director and student advisor Kirstie Webb writes about her experience working from home under Covid-19.

(Law Clinic Student Director Kirstie Webb)

“When life as we know it changed on 23rd March, many of us had to adapt to a different way of living (and working) that we had never previously considered. As most of us adjusted to a world full of zoom meetings and make-shift working from home stations, the Law Clinic has also adapted its service to continue providing legal advice and representation to those who need it most. 

“The Coronavirus may have forced us to close our office doors at the University of Strathclyde, however, we have endeavoured to keep it business as usual with our ongoing casework and online service. Our supervising solicitors, administrators and students have been working remotely to ensure that all our client’s legal meets are met. This has included zoom client meetings, even initial client meetings for new clients, and conducting Employment Hearings remotely. Preparing for a hearing at the Employment Tribunal is challenging in itself, however our student advisor’s have taken it in their stride in conducting several Employment Tribunal hearings from home. This ability to represent our client’s in even the most uncertain times is a testament to the dedication of our student volunteers.

“A great highlight within the Law Clinic from the past six weeks is that we conducted our first remote Initial Advice Clinic (IAC) on 20 April. Before the pandemic, our IAC’s were one of the busiest parts of our service. Our IAC’s composed of two fast-paced night’s each month, where on average 20 members of the public were receiving on the spot legal advice. Whilst our first remote zoom IAC saw significantly less people, the drive of our volunteer student advisors and solicitors to hold this session is something to be celebrated.

“Despite the majority of our services still running, unfortunately, volunteers working on some of our projects have not been able to continue at this time. These projects include our Scottish Women’s Rights Centre, Criminal Convictions Unit and Prisons project. We hope that work will be able to resume on these as soon as possible.

“Reflecting on working from home from a personal perspective, I have found it difficult to adjust to my very quiet dining room and miss the buzz and chatter of our offices. This has been a particularly surreal experience as my time at university and the Law Clinic is coming to an end. When motivation is dwindling, I think it has been important to set targets both personally and professionally to what I would like to achieve during this time. And while I can’t say that my Spanish has improved to the level it should have, I think it’s equally as important to be proud of completing daily tasks and accomplishing small goals.

“At the end of the day, this is a time which we could have never predicted, and everyone is coping the best they can. What I am certain of during this global pandemic is that I am extremely proud to be part of the Law Clinic, which is still helping to provide access to justice, even in the most uncertain times.”

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Coronavirus Update from Law Clinic Director Kate Laverty

Law Clinic Director: Kate Laverty

“It is now over eight weeks since the Law Clinic had to move to remote working when the University buildings all closed. I have been so impressed how our team of staff and students have coped with this new way of working. We are all presented with different challenges, but we have kept pace with ongoing cases, taken on new cases, and kept our IAC’s and Online services going.

“Our group of IAC volunteer solicitors and students have very quickly adapted to helping people by phone or videoconferencing. It is of course very different from seeing people in person but at least we can still give advice and guidance which can go a long way to help those facing difficult legal problems. We had no shortage of volunteer solicitors willing to offer this service remotely and we are so grateful to them all for their time and commitment to the Law Clinic.

“In the coming weeks we will be trying to ensure our website is populated with more useful advice and guidance on the issues faced by many of our clients and re-assure people that we are still operating and can continue to provide advice and representation.

“In the midst of the challenges for the Law Clinic and its clients posed by the Coronavirus pandemic our volunteer students have also had to cope with a new way of sitting exams, completing assignments and for many finishing their years at University with no way to get together with their course mates and other friends to mark the end of several years hard work.  Summer graduations have also been cancelled which Diane and I will particularly miss. We will just have to find another way to celebrate our student’s achievements before or after lockdown and they deserve an extra special congratulations in the circumstances.

“So many people have suffered in different ways, from the effects of Coronavirus and our thoughts and best wishes go to those suffering from ill health or the effects of lock down.

“We have no information as to when we will be back in our offices in George Street but as soon as we are, we will let everyone know.

“Some good news for the Clinic is that our IAC team, led by Rebecca Farquhar and assisted by her deputies Chloe Morgan and Karen Yuill were shortlisted for ‘Best Contribution by a Team of Students’ in the LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards 2020. It is fantastic to be shortlisted amongst so much stiff competition and we wish them the best of luck in the awards.

“Emelia Conner who runs our Prisons project won the StrathUnion Star Award for ‘Community Project of the Year’ for her work as project co-ordinator. A very well deserved award for Emelia who brings so much enthusiasm and commitment to this project.

Take care and keep safe.”

Kate Laverty

Law Clinic Director

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Law Clinic Supervisors attend the Biennial Conference in Indonesia

Kathleen Bolt and Gillian Melville, legal supervisors at the Strathclyde Law Clinic, had the opportunity to attend the Biennial Conference organised by the Global Alliance for Justice Education in December 2019. The following article describes their experience.

“The Biennial Conference takes place in a developing country with the aim of extending participation in discussion and debate around justice education across as many countries as possible. This year the Conference was held in Indonesia. The Alliance exists to promote justice education in a variety of ways. At its heart is a commitment to the use of clinical legal education and student participation in the delivery of legal education to achieve social justice. This is best delivered using experiential learning. The University of Strathclyde’s law clinic and Clinical LLB is a prime of example of this.

(From Left to Right, Law Clinic Supervisors Kathleen Bolt and Gillian Melville)

“The Conference involved workshops spanning 5 days with two further days training in delivering clinical legal education and street law. Delegates from all over the developing and developed world participated- sharing experience of both clinical teaching methods and initiatives and the many and varied ways in which University students and staff, local lawyers and paralegals are working together to try to deliver social justice for marginalised groups through street law and legal clinics. There were a number of presentations from students including those hosting the Conference at Pasundan University, Bandung, where 100 student volunteers looked after delegates with great hospitality and care; many involved in street law projects with young people with disabilities, sex workers, elderly women involved in recycling plastic, an eco-project and people living with HIV and drug addictions. 

“The Conference highlighted the nature of the social justice issues faced across the world, including gender-based violence, trafficking of women, detention of prisoners without trial and the needs of street children. How do we consult and involve communities in identifying the issues that are important to them, how do we tackle the disconnect between what law promises to people and what it delivers-and how do we ensure that people are aware of the rights that they even have?”

Kathleen Bolt concluded on her experience of the Conference:

“Everything we discussed could apply to any one of the communities in the countries and regions we represented in their own way. The Conference created an environment for sharing experiences and learning in a supportive and constructive way and represented all that is good about internationalism, a core value of this University.”

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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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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.”

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