Being in the law clinic alongside the diploma

(Haarisa Akram, Student Advisor)

Student Advisor, Haarisa Akram, talks about her experience of being in the clinic alongside the Diploma. This was Haarisa’s first and only year in the clinic and Haarisa talks about how to make the most of the limited time in the Clinic for those who only join in their Diploma year, and how worthwhile the experience is even though it may only be a year.  

I started studying the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at the University of Strathclyde in September 2021 after completing my LLB at Edinburgh Napier University. Shortly after, in October 2021, I became a Student Advisor for the Law Clinic and felt sharing my experience may be useful for others.

I had decided to join the Law Clinic because I had spent the last two years (the most important years even) of the LLB taking classes online. Although I was ecstatic to have finished my undergraduate, I felt slightly disappointed that I was not able to make the most of University life due to the pandemic. Therefore, I had promised myself that when I started the Diploma, I would make the most of the experience. I really wanted to build on my own skills and knowledge, whilst making a difference to the lives of others and the Law Clinic seemed like the perfect place to do that. In the short time that I have been a student advisor, I have had the chance to take part in such a variety of tasks. It is experience I would have struggled to find elsewhere and it is definitely a rewarding role.

Within my first few weeks, I was able to participate in an Initial Advice Clinic. I found the IACs to be a great starting point for a new advisor, as it was a useful opportunity to shadow an experienced advisor lead a meeting with a client and a qualified solicitor give the appropriate advice. I have been able to join IACs involving the likes of employment law, housing issues and personal injury matters. I would definitely recommend signing up for these to anyone who is just starting out at the Clinic. I, myself, was very nervous and doubted I had the skills to take part. The only way I was able to get over that feeling was to just go for it and the IACs were the perfect way to get familiar with the process as an inexperienced advisor before leading a session as an experienced advisor.

I was thoroughly enjoying my role as a Student Advisor and had decided to pick the Work Based Learning elective with the Law Clinic for my second semester of Diploma. I felt it would help me balance clinic work with my university timetable and I would be able to continue with my responsibility to assist in providing access to justice in Glasgow and surrounding areas. I would highly recommend carrying out Work Based Learning with the Law Clinic to anyone who is considering doing their Diploma, as it has changed my perspective as a future solicitor and made me more familiar with working in a legal environment. I would also advise that the elective only pays off where you are committed to meeting learning objectives and playing an active role within the working environment, so it is important that you are really looking to learn whilst making a difference! Doing the elective as part of my semester would mean I was able to continue with my commitment to make the most of the Diploma year and I absolutely feel this was the right choice.

The Law Clinic is so busy as it is such a valuable lifeline to many individuals and vulnerable groups. Due to this, it is unlikely that clinic work will fall into your lap. I have found that the best way to make the most your time and become involved as quickly as possible is to be as proactive as possible. Everyone involved is always happy to help and I found reaching out to supervisors, student directors and my firm co-ordinator to be the best way to make myself known and available for work. For example, I had contacted my supervisor about any ongoing opportunities. From this, I was able to join on to an existing case which needed a second representative at an Employment Tribunal Preliminary Hearing. This was my first time representing a client and I enjoyed the chance to work with my co-advisor, Melissa. From this single hearing, I have learned so much about court preparation and procedure.

I can absolutely say that joining the Law Clinic was a great decision. I feel so privileged to be a part of it and am constantly learning in such a short time period. To anyone considering joining, I can 100% advocate that it will strengthen your skills whilst you make a bigger impact in the community. Regardless of where you are in terms of your education, the Law Clinic staff and members appreciate any and all time you can put in. You will be inspired, appreciated and best of all, have fun!

By Haarisa Akram, Student Advisor

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