By Laura Nicol, Student Director
I am just beginning my 4th year of volunteering at the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic alongside my clinical LLB, and recently, I got my very first thank you card from a client.
It was an employment case of constructive dismissal, with elements of disability discrimination, and we took the client on with a strike out hearing looming. We were able to get past the strike out hearing and then went on to get a good result for our client.
I, and two fellow co-advisors conducted a lot of prep in a short amount of time for the strike out hearing, conducted the strike out hearing, drafted applications to amend, prepared to represent at a full hearing, and worked hard in settlement negotiations. We did this all while managing our own deadlines within our university, work, and personal lives. And don’t be fooled, a lot of this work is tiring, tedious, and sometimes mundane. This is nothing short of what every other advisor in the clinic does and it makes it sound like hard work. This is because it is hard work. It takes a lot of effort and organisation, and we expect nothing in return.
Why then, do us students do it. Well, I cannot speak for everyone at the clinic, but I am sure many would join me in saying that I do it is because I love it. Beyond the practical experience it gives me, it also gives me opportunity to do something meaningful with my skills.
I think what is easy to forget is that law is pretty exclusionary. Others are not taught to navigate, understand, or apply it. Yet, it affects everyone at some point in their lives. How then can we have the privilege of being taught the skills to use it, and not offer to help someone without those skills. Yes, these skills are a solicitor’s livelihood, but they are also other people’s last lifelines.
So, even though we can expect nothing in return, there is a lot on offer – meaningfulness, sense of worth, ability to assist those in need, using your specialist skills for the good of someone else, doing something you love, and sometimes, even a thank you card.
The thank you card is something I will keep forever, the first one I have ever received from someone that I helped, I assisted in getting through a tough time in their lives. Someone that would otherwise would have been unlikely to carry on with their case without my, and my co-advisors’, skills which we are lucky enough to have.