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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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

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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.

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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.”

Strathclyde Law Clinic Supervisor Shortlisted for Herald Society Award

We are delighted to announce that Gillian Melville, supervising solicitor at The University of Strathclyde Law Clinic has been shortlisted as a finalist in the category:  Herald Society Worker of the Year – for The Herald Society Awards 2019.

The awards will be presented at a formal dinner on the evening of Wednesday 6 November, 2019.

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Another Successful Street Law Training Session!

The Law Clinic welcomed Professor David McQuoid-Mason, an internationally recognised expert in Street Law from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who conducted a Street Law training session for Law Clinic members.

During the course of the training session, Professor McQuoid-Mason covered a wide range of subject areas with a focus on enabling those in attendance to be able to lead a Street Law training session themselves. Early in the session he made the point that one of the most effective ways of learning is through activities which underpinned his entire approach to the session.

The training session included a variety of activities including a mini-moot, where trainees were presented with a scenario and took on the roles of lawyers for the plaintiff and respondent who presented their arguments to a third trainee who acted as a judge. For instance, there was an exercise in which trainees were asked to argue for or against a proposition e.g. a second Scottish independence referendum.

(From left to right: Victoria Hodges, Carly Morrison, Professor David McQuoid-Mason, Katie Gardner and Anthony Pace)

Training Officer Anthony Pace said; ‘The session was a great success which all of the trainees thoroughly enjoyed. As well as helping the trainees develop new skills and confidence, it has encouraged them to take part in the Clinic’s Street Law programme.’

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A Day in the Life of a Summer Student – Karen Yuill

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.

“Working in the clinic over the summer has been a fantastic opportunity to help those most in need of our services. Access to Justice doesn’t stop for the summer break.

This is a time where my casework increases so that we continue to maintain the level of service that we provide throughout the academic year. Not only do we work on our cases, but we help each other when required, this leads to the sharing of cases, ideas and learnings.

Day to day working is varied as you just never know what will happen on your day, telephone calls from clients, emails from other parties or even having to help another student with their case. This is a great insight into what may await us once our studies are completed.

Cases I have worked on over the summer placement included Employment, Housing and Simple Procedure. I attended the Employment Tribunal to conclude a four day hearing, as well as a Judicial Mediation. Further, a case that has been with me for some time, is now going to Mediation in the hope that we can achieve a resolution for both parties.

I would just like to add that I would highly recommend that any students in the clinic who wish to further enhance their learnings apply for these placements as they are invaluable.”

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