20th Anniversary: An Interview with Charlene Tannock

When were you in the clinic?

I have been a member of the Strathclyde Law Clinic since my second-year undergrad, I was a student advisor, then worked on the online projects and eventually ended up as an IAC advisor.

What are you doing now?

Just about to move into a NQ position with DAC Beachcroft in October. I’ll be joining their Litigation team, so I am very excited to get started and stuck into the variety of new work I’ll get exposed to.

When did you first start volunteering for the IACS?

I started volunteering with the IAC as a first-year trainee solicitor. This will be approaching my 3rd year as an IAC advisor.

What motivated you to volunteer?

My previous life before law heavily involved working with communities who really struggled to access justice and credible legal advice so that was a real driver for me getting involved in the clinic. I genuinely believe that people should not be disadvantaged because they cannot access suitable legal advice or don’t know how to source it.

What’s the best bit about being involved in the IACs?

Being in a position to actually help people and make a real difference. Meeting the various clients and seeing how the advice you’ve provided will impact them and has impacted them if they return.

Another real benefit for me is helping the students, being able to give the students advice on how to approach problems and involving them in the advice process.

And the worst?!

It is unavoidable but delivering disappointing news. Sometimes the resources are just so stretched that the Clinic cannot help and there are times when the client leaves their problem to a point where you actually cannot help them. Communicating that to the clients can be difficult and it can feel so frustrating because you want to help but can’t.

What was your most nerve-wracking moment in the clinic?

Having a challenging client who just didn’t want to hear the advice, was not prepared to accept the advice, and became increasingly rude. Never underestimate the power of telling someone no, as much as you try and help, sometimes the answer is just no, and it was a good learning experience for me dealing with a difficult client and being able to deescalate the situation with the help of the students.

What was the most valuable thing you learned from being in the clinic?

To someone with no other option, the clinic is a lifeline so take it seriously, prepare and give that person your undivided attention. The clinic makes you a better lawyer, it teaches you to think on your feet and approach situations from different perspectives while also being able to teach the students. I didn’t have that opportunity when I was a student so it is really important to me to involve the students where I can and show them how to approach the various problems that arise at the IAC.

Any special message for Law Clinic’s 20th birthday?

To the clinic – Keep up the phenomenal work and continue to grow. The service is an institutional lifeline for the West of Scotland that attracts clients from all over the country and it can only continue to assist those people with the support of the students, the solicitors, the funders, and the bones of the clinic – the back-office support staff.

To Strathclyde Law / Diploma Students – join the clinic, get involved, you’ll meet great people, you’ll learn about the law in a practical environment, and you’ll actually get to help people. It’s a winner winner!

We are hosting an event on campus to celebrate our 20th Anniversary on the 21st September 2023. This will provide an opportunity for past and present advisors and friends of the clinic to come together and discuss the issues facing access to justice in our main practice areas: employment, regulation of social service workers and immigration. You can sign-up via the link below: