Law Clinic Success at Evening Times Community Champion Awards

 

 

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic enjoyed a successful night at the 11th edition of the Evening Times North West Community Champion Awards at Partick Burgh Hall. With Strathclyde Law Clinic jointly winning the “Public Services Award” alongside Glasgow Caledonian University Law Clinic.

Held on Tuesday 2nd October 2018, the Awards celebrate ordinary people who do extraordinary work in Glasgow and the surrounding areas.

Also nominated in the Public Services Award category was: Anne Marie Robertson Dryburgh, who has successfully run older people’s social project ‘Alive and Kicking’ for more than 30 years; And: Glasgow Caledonian Law Clinic, who have achieved fantastic success through the provision of access to justice within Glasgow.

This award is a testament to the tireless hard-work and dedication that all our student advisors put into their Law Clinic work. Helping to provide access to justice to members of the community who would otherwise go without.

 

 

 

 

Strathclyde Law Clinic shortlisted for Herald Society Award

We are delighted to announce that The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic has been shortlisted as a finalist in the category: Herald Society Team of the Year – for The Herald Society Awards 2018.

The awards will be presented at a formal awards dinner on the evening of Thursday, November 1, 2018.

Follow Strathclyde Law Clinic on social media by clicking the following links to keep up to date with all future news and updates:

A Day in the Life of a Summer Student – Emma Manson

Over the summer months I have been able to see the full extent of the fantastic work that the Law Clinic does on a daily basis. During term time it is easy to focus only on the cases you are personally involved in, however the summer placement has allowed me to see the full spectrum of cases that the clinic takes on.

Each day in the clinic is different but it is always guaranteed to be busy. The bulk of my day is spent on case work – normally student advisors would have one or two cases, however my case load has risen to nine to ensure cases don’t fall through the cracks during the summer, so there is certainly lots to do. I usually start my day by setting out which tasks I should prioritise for the day ahead, paying special attention to any urgent matters or clients who should be contacted. Even a well-planned day could be turned on its head at the arrival of a letter from a client, respondent or even the Employment Tribunal but this keeps every day interesting!

As this is my first year in the clinic, my summer placement has enabled me to become more familiar with all the clinic staff and dedicated student advisors. Sharing thoughts and opinions on cases has been a great way to improve and refine my work in the Law Clinic, make great friends and improve my ability to provide access to justice.

A Day In The Life Of A Summer Student

Summer Student – Rebecca Farquhar  

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.

As a summer student I have undertaken a variety of work and it has been an excellent opportunity to not only help clients with their legal concerns but also develop my skills in legal research. As part of the Housing Advice Under One Roof project, I have been one of the students responsible for researching the new Housing and Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland and creating accessible resources on how to engage with this new remedies forum. I am also the new Initial Advice Clinic project manager and have spent time over the summer developing a strategy for the year ahead.

Helping to ensure that access to justice is a reality rather than only a theory was the reason that I wanted to pursue a career in the legal sphere and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that I have been given whilst being a member of the Law Clinic.

 

 

 

Strathclyde Law Clinic Selected as Finalist

We are delighted to announce that The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic has been selected as a finalist in the Public Services Award category for the Evening Times Community Champion Awards 2018 – North West.

The winners will be announced at the ceremony which is taking place on October 2, 2018.

Follow Strathclyde Law Clinic on social media by clicking the following links to keep up to date with all future news and updates:

 

Student Directors Provide Unique Presentation to Thailand Senior Judges

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 and English Legal and Criminal Justice Systems.

While on a trip to the Sheriff Court, one of the Sheriffs discussed the Law Clinic with the Judges who expressed an interest in learning more about the Law Clinic.

James Anderson and Kirstie Webb, Student Directors of the Strathclyde Law Clinic, volunteered to provide a presentation to the Judges, aimed at describing the work the Law Clinic carries out, how it operates and students involvement in the Clinic.

Both Directors found the experience invaluable with Kirstie Webb stating: “When Kate mentioned that representatives of the Law Clinic had been asked to present the objectives and ideologies of the Law Clinic to thirty-five Supreme Court Judges, I was thrilled to have this rare opportunity. The Judges were extremely interested in the way that the Clinic operates and the work that we do, and I hope that we inspired with our presentation and left a lasting impression of the work we do here at Strathclyde.”

James Anderson recalled: “It was an exceptional experience to address thirty-five Supreme Court Judges from another country. I was immensely proud to relay the work of the 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 to such an esteemed audience.”

Dr Supakit Yampracha, one of the judges who coordinated the visit and who is a former PhD student at Strathclyde Law School, said, “It was a great opportunity for the visiting judges to hear about the work of the Law Clinic at Strathclyde. We do not have Law Clinics in Thailand, so it was very interesting to hear how the students and staff at Strathclyde have developed their role in helping people in Glasgow”.

To keep up to date with the Law Clinic please follow us on social media and check out our website.

Strathclyde Law Clinic students get first hand experience on Miami Exchange

Four students from the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic have recently returned from an educational exchange with the University of Miami Law Clinic.

Kirstie Webb, Michael Ballantyne, Laura Cheng and Alice Bowman 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. Kirstie said: “Having researched the Miami Health Rights Clinic I wanted to see how a specialist clinic operated in practice. I also thought that it would be a great opportunity to meet new people and experience a different type of clinic and university life.”

Laura said: “I was really interested in learning about another legal system (especially the mechanics of another Clinic in another jurisdiction worked) and I had never been to America before, so I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to apply for the exchange.”

Michael said: “I had done a research project on the Clinic last year and wanted to develop this by seeing how another Clinic operates. My classes in 4th year also included very ethical and clinical subjects which made me more interested in the Clinic from an ethical perspective.”

Arriving on Sunday 20th 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 Health Rights Clinic, which is a specialist clinic, time was then spent on finishing off presentations.

On Tuesday May 22nd, the students got the chance to see client intake at the South Florida Aids Network where they sat in on client meetings. Laura said: “I really enjoyed sitting in on Miami’s Clinic’s equivalent of initial interviews at the hospital; their clinic specialises in health rights, immigration and adjustment issues, social security and benefits, which I thought was really interesting, and something a little different to Strathclyde.” 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 street art/graffiti on the Wynwood Art Walk. They had a farewell dinner at Tap Tap Restaurant and enjoyed a last night with the students.

All of the students who attended felt that it is vital for Strathclyde Law Clinic to have this connection with their Miami counterparts. With the Miami Clinic dealing with issues that Strathclyde do not. Michael said: “We rarely tackle issues similar to what Miami deal with. Miami clients were HIV positive, had gunshot wounds, no access to healthcare and allows a sharp perspective to be taken when we come back to Strathclyde.”

Kirstie said: “A relationship between the clinics is important to allow students to experience how a different type of clinic works in practice. The two clinics are extremely different and I think it’s a great way to see the benefits of having a specialist law clinic.”

Laura said: “I think it’s important because it really emphasises the importance of Law Clinics all around the world – it’s good to have an awareness of other countries/people who face different problems and how clinics like Miami and Strathclyde’s can help.”

The experience has opened the eyes of the students to what could be incorporated into Clinic life at Strathclyde. Michael said: “The Miami Clinic appears to have a lot more outreach exposure. They physically go out into communities, hospitals, clinics and speak to clients. Whereas at Strathclyde, minus the IAC’s (which now only happen in the Clinic) and other small projects, we do not specifically go out into a community, hospital etc. with a specific aim.”

Kirstie said: “The Miami Clinic operates extremely differently from ours. For starters, the students are only part of the clinic for one semester and get credits for their work. It’s a specialist clinic meaning students participating in the Health Rights Clinic represent multiple clients in different legal matters related to health. This contrasts to the generalist clinic structure that we follow.”

 

SULCN 2018: A STUDENTS EXPERIENCE

A recent event attended by representatives of the Clinic was the annual Scottish University Law Clinic Network Conference (SULCN).

The conference was held in Dundee, and was attended by new Student Director James Anderson, and Director of the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, Kate Laverty.

The afternoon was filled with passionate speakers who all wanted to share their ideas and promote the general positive progression of law clinics across Scotland. One main theme of this year’s conference was how ever more important technology is becoming. This discussion led to ways to learn from other fields and help law clinics provide even better access to justice.

The opening keynote address was provided by Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre who talked about how to use new technology and partnership working to find solutions to social problems, and how the law must be used to fight for social change. With a particular emphasis on ‘self-help legal kits’, providing the public with the legal information they need.

Malcolm Combe and Pippa Robertson discussed the Scottish University Land Unit (a partnership with Development Trusts Association Scotland and law students, which is currently running a pilot at the University of Aberdeen). The Scottish University Land Unit or ‘SULU’, aims to support community bodies in exercising their community rights in respect of land.

Sarah Webb informed us of an exciting partnership between University of Abertay students and Police Scotland seeking to resolve cold cases of missing persons; before Malcom Combe returned to discuss the new “pro bono expenses orders” which can be used where someone has been represented in legal proceedings for free.

Alison Atack, the new president of the Law Society of Scotland, delivered the closing address, and the society also generously supported the event. Proceedings on the day were co-ordinated by Liz Comerford of the University of Dundee.

James said: “The most valuable advice I gleaned from the afternoon can be summarised in one word: simplicity. Now, more than ever, the general public is expected to self-represent for parts if not all of the legal process.

In a point stressed eloquently by the new President of the Law Society, Alison Atack, a crucial skill that every student should develop is the ability to explain legal issues and give advice simply and effectively.

I was delighted to share the progress of the Employment Tribunal project currently under development at the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic and felt reassured that the vision behind this style of project is shared with Law Clinics across Scotland.

It was fantastic to make the acquaintance of so many enthusiastic people. I would encourage all students with an interest in access to justice to attend next year.”

SULCN is an annual event which provides Law Clinics across Scotland the opportunity to share experiences, ideas, relevant news and developments and the opportunity to network.

 

New Project: Housing Advice Under One Roof

“The Law Clinic is delighted to announce its latest project – Housing Advice Under One Roof – which aims to explore engagement with the newly established Housing and Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal for Scotland.

Throughout the summer, research will be undertaken in order to understand this new remedies forum and the changes arising from its creation. This research will not only help facilitate vital training for Law Clinic staff and volunteers but will also result in the development of accessible resources for those seeking to raise legal proceedings through this new forum.

The Law Clinic would like to thank the SafeDeposits Scotland Trust for its support of this project which will help the Law Clinic in supporting clients and increase the public’s knowledge of how they can seek redress for housing issues.”

Law Clinic hosts Insightful Refugee Festival Event

The Law Clinic’s Immigration Unit recently hosted a public education event as part of the Refugee Festival Scotland 2018 entitled ‘Please Believe Me!’.

The well attended event was hosted by immigration unit coordinator, Hanan El-Atrash, and former student director, Fergus Lawrie.  The event kicked off with an introductory address to the guests and a general overview of the function of the Clinic and the role of the Immigration Unit. Following this was a dramatised version of a substantive asylum interview procedure, inspired by the genuine asylum interviews that clients of Strathclyde Law Clinic have undergone.

The performance showed the way in which Home Office caseworkers ask an asylum applicant questions about why they are claiming asylum, and the types of questions they are asked. This process can, in practice, take several hours, and the same questions often get asked in different ways.

At the Law Clinic event, this exercise was conducted through interactive forum theatre. This allowed the audience to stop and interact with the dramatisation as it progressed. This saw the audience deal with a variety of problems and misunderstandings that arose because of the nature of the interview process itself. These misunderstandings very often go on to affect the credibility of those seeking asylum and can lead to the rejection of an asylum claim even when the person is genuinely in need of international protection.

This difficult exercise was showcased by talented members of the Law Clinic, Immigration Unit Deputies, James Burns and Agata Soroka and Welfare Project Manager, Kuda Chinyani. They portrayed a version of the Grimm Brothers’ tale of Snow White, depicting a young German girl fleeing persecution from her home country and is forced to rely on the kindness of strangers to seek refuge in a neighbouring state. Whilst clearly fictional, this version of the story carried many of the hallmarks of a typical case that the Home Office would encounter.

The second half of the two-hour event highlighted information regarding the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service (DASS) project, and the role that the Law Clinic plays in that project alongside its partner organisations, which include Refugee Survival Trust, Scottish Refugee Council and British Red Cross. This talk not only drew attention to the daily problems faced by destitute asylum seekers across the country, but also how organisations like our Immigration Unit are committed to helping people deal with these issues. There was also a discussion on what more could be done to assist.  

The event was a success and the Law Clinic was honoured to be able to contribute in the Refugee Festival Scotland 2018. The objective was to tackle myths and misinformation about those navigating the asylum process and to explain how many people end up living for years in destitution in the UK. Those who attended appreciated the opportunity to learn and to discuss the challenges faced by destitute asylum seekers, whose situation is often explained politically but rarely discussed factually.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Immigration Unit Event on our social media pages.