Global Alliance for Justice Education Conference – Turning Challenges into Opportunities

Three of our clinic members were able to attend the latest Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) conference: Jordan Hamlett, Cara Hope and Rhonda Wheate. Not only did they attend the conference but they also presented and ran a workshop on empowering students and clients simultaneously through remote representation which fitted in with the theme of the conference: Turning Challenges into Opportunities. Read Jordan, Cara, and Rhonda’s accounts on the conference to find out more about what GAJE is, their workshop and their thoughts on the conference.

Jordan Hamlett – Clinic Student Director and Student Advisor

To be able to attend, let alone present, at this year’s GAJE Conference alongside Cara Hope in June was nothing short of a surreal experience. I must note that it would not have been possible without the support and assistance from the Law Clinic’s Director and supervisor, Kate Laverty, the Clinical LLB Director, Rhonda Wheate, and the Law Clinic’s supervisors, Kathleen Bolt and Gillian Melville.

The GAJE Conference draws staff and students involved in law clinics around the world and legal practitioners interested in access to justice to congregate to discuss challenges and opportunities concerning access to justice. To present, at the GAJE Conference, on the Law Clinic’s student advisors work relating to their representation of clients at Scottish Employment Tribunal, Simple Procedure, and Scottish Social Services Council proceedings was unbelievable. Those that attended our workshop were amazed to hear that our students represent at court and tribunal proceedings, which indicates that it truly is a testament to our students’ hard work and dedication to providing access to justice.

It was truly an honour to present on the Law Clinic’s student advisors’ hard work, and I hope that our workshop entices other law clinics in the UK and around the world, if they aren’t already, to support and encourage student representation at tribunal and court proceedings to promote access to justice.

Cara Hope – IAC Coordinator and Student Advisor

Access to justice forms the core of the Law Clinic, and something which I am personally passionate about. As such, I have been a member of the Law Clinic for 2 years and undertake the Clinical Scots and English degree. The opportunity to attend the GAJE conference was awe-inspiring, let alone the opportunity to present. Working with Jordan and the supervisors of the Law Clinic, we put together a proposal for a workshop based on empowering students and clients simultaneously through remote representation. This interlinked with the theme of the GAJE Conference this year, Turning Challenges into Opportunities, and with the significant impact the COVID-19 impact has had on justice in the past year.

Our workshop followed a made-up scenario of the process of a client using the Law Clinic services, through an initial interview and representation at a full hearing which happened remotely. Participants in the workshop met the client and two student advisors, who faced additional challenges working entirely remotely on the case start to finish. Difficulties with the client, the Judge and technology brought up several obstacles in front of the advisors and we asked the participants to think about how best you could ensure the students, the client and the supervisor assisting the case could become empowered. This included delegation and supporting each other using new techniques and innovative ideas to overcome the barriers of remote representation.

Our workshop was well-received by the participants, who were impressed that as students we conduct all representation for clients ourselves. Keen to hear how we had embraced the opportunity and challenge of remote representation in the past year, Jordan and I discussed our individual experiences and what we have learned from others in the Clinic.

It was a unique and exciting opportunity to exchange ideas and to think critically about what our experience had taught us, passing our learned knowledge onto others. Presenting as a student, we had a very different outlook on the features of the conference as the majority of presentations were by supervisory staff of clinics across the world, and they were keen to hear our perspective. Overall it was an amazing experience and I would recommend anyone interested in clinical education to attend if possible at the next conference in a few years.

Rhonda Wheate – Strathclyde Law School Lecturer and CLLB Coordinator

From an academic perspective, the GAJE conferences are unique in so many ways. Naturally they fulfil all the usual reasons for large academic conferences – Networking, keeping up with the latest developments in the field, learning about innovations, gaining an international perspective – but they always deliver far more than just this. The colleagues and students who participate in GAJE conferences share a vision for access to justice! This brings together people who are inherently interested in helping others, keeping an open mind, and finding creative ways to solve the many problems that beset people all over the world who are trying to access their right to justice.

GAJE papers, presentations, workshops, discussions and participants always amaze me with their enthusiasm, passion and wide-ranging interest, and this year was no different. We found that colleagues were again impressed by the fact that the Strathclyde Law Clinic is truly ‘student led’. Our students meet with clients, prepare casefiles and paperwo{“type”:”block”,”srcClientIds”:[“b3bca6ce-1acc-4915-a042-cbb1b6310cab”],”srcRootClientId”:””}rk, deliver advice and representation, and make the decisions about how our Clinic is run. It is testament to our dedicated and energetic students that we are able to achieve this, and it bears repeating at every GAJE conference: Access to justice can be and is delivered by students, helping the most vulnerable members of our community. It was a delight to see Jordan and Cara demonstrating this at GAJE this year, and to again be so well-received and admired for the excellent job they and the rest of our students are doing in the University Strathclyde Law Clinic.


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