Four students along with two staff members from the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic have recently returned from an educational exchange with the University of Miami Health Rights Law Clinic.
James Anderson, Karen Yuill, Eilidh Campbell, Ben Dickson, Susan Fallone (supervisor) and Kate Laverty (Director) spent four days in May absorbing the work conducted by the students of Miami’s Clinic.
All had different reasons for wanting to participate in the exchange. James said: “As part of my role both as Student Director and as a member of the Law Clinic’s Executive Committee, I continuously seek ways to improve both the outreach and efficiency of the casework conducted. Consequently, I was excited at the prospect of gaining first-hand experience observing how a specialist Law Clinic operates in practice, using this insight to ultimately improve the service provided by the Strathclyde Law Clinic.”
Karen said: “I wanted to participate in the Miami exchange as I wanted to see how the Health Rights Clinic differed from ours and to see if there was any learnings I could take from the visit. Also to highlight to the Miami students all the great work that we do here. An exchange of best practices if you like.”
Eilidh said: “There are few Law Clinics in Scotland of comparable size to Strathclyde so I was interested to see how another big clinic operates and how their specific context affects how they provide access to justice.”
Arriving on Sunday 19 May, they were treated to a welcome dinner at Montys Raw Bar then headed to the hotel for the night. The students were introduced to the Miami University Health Rights Clinic, which is a specialist clinic, time was then spent on finishing off presentations.
On Tuesday 21 May, the students got the chance to see client intake at the South Florida Aids Network where they sat in on client meetings. Eilidh said: “It was interesting to observe the Health Right’s Clinic’s initial interview process, especially as they take place in the hospitals with which their clients are familiar. The problems affecting their clients were very different but the underlying causes were surprisingly similar.” The group had some spare time in the evening to explore the sights and sounds of Miami.
On the last day of the exchange the students experienced the cultural side of Miami. They took in the natural beauty of the city with a kayak tour at the Virginia Key Outdoor Centre. They had a farewell dinner at Bakan Wynwood before enjoying a final night with the Miami students.
The experience has opened the eyes of the students as to what could be incorporated into Clinic life at Strathclyde.
Ben said: “The Miami Law Clinic is extremely connected to the most vulnerable members of the local community, their referral procedure in which medical staff working at the hospital refer potential clients to the Miami Health Rights Law Clinic ensures they are providing justice to those most in need. Whereas at Strathclyde most of our clients are referred to us from other members of the legal community. Subsequently, I believe it would be interesting to see if we could attempt to use organisations out-with the legal community to refer potential clients to the law clinic, In order to ensure we are assisting those within our local community who are most in need.”