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.”

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

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 Director attends Conference at the University of Hong Kong

In October 2019 Law Clinic Director, Kate Laverty, attended a conference to celebrate 50 years of the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong.

“I was delighted to be invited to a Conference in Hong Kong, in October 2019, to celebrate 50 years of the Faculty of Law at The University of Hong Kong. The conference was on Experiential Learning and Innovations in Legal Education.  It drew on the experience of a number of experts in this field from various parts of the world including, China, USA, Australia, Hong Kong, and the UK. We also heard from those in other disciplines in Hong Kong including medicine, dentistry, and education all of which gave a very interesting insight to different approaches to experiential learning.

“Many different approaches to legal education were discussed from Monash University whose students are guaranteed participation in a Clinical programme to the use of simulation in others. Some talked about advances in AI and how we should prepare our students for developments of this nature. Tania Leiman from Flinders University, Australia teaches classes on Law in a Digital Age (which includes building AI legal apps to increase access to justice) and Law in Action (which includes a law reform clinic working on legal implications of emerging technologies). Sun Yat Sen’s University Clinic had similarities to ours at Strathclyde in that it is involved in labour rights and their students represent their clients in courts and tribunals.

Pictured above: Speakers at the Conference.

“It was fantastic to hear about what was going on in teaching and Clinics in various parts of the world and our University of Hong Kong hosts were extremely warm and welcoming and organised a very informative and interesting conference. We wish them all the best for the next 50 years.

“It was particularly nice for me to return to Hong Kong having lived and worked there for a few years in the early nineties. It is a very vibrant and interesting city and we hope that it manages to resolve its recent difficulties in the near future.”

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.

Strathclyde Law Clinic Supervisor Finalist for Herald Society Award

The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic was delighted to attend the recent Herald Society Award Finals.

(From left to right: Student Director’s James Anderson and Kirstie Webb and Supervising Solicitor Gillian Melville)

On Wednesday 6 November 2019, Law Clinic Supervisor Gillian Melville, Student Director James Anderson and Student Director Kirstie Webb attended the Herald Society Awards 2019.  Gillian Melville, Supervising Solicitor at The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic had been shortlisted as a finalist in the category: Herald Society Worker of the Year.

The Awards, run in association with Wheatley Group recognise and celebrate the dedication, imagination and the vital impact of the best work taking place in the public and voluntary sectors throughout Scotland. We would like to congratulate all prize winners for the incredible work they have accomplished within Scotland and the prizes they won are a true reflection of the effort they put in to improving their community.

James Anderson reflected on the event saying:

“On behalf of all students who volunteer at the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic I would like to say a massive congratulations to Gillian for this nomination. She is a fantastic supervising solicitor, guiding students with her wealth of knowledge while remaining a calm and reassuring presence to students across all stages of their degree.

Her nomination is a testament to her passion, dedication and commitment to providing access to justice, positively influencing the lives of both clients and students. Furthermore, while she did not win the overall award, her nomination shows how much value is placed on the work she does at 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.

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.”