A student-run legal service which offers free advice to individuals and organisations in Plymouth has received a major national award.
The Plymouth Law Clinic, based at the University of Plymouth, won the 'Best Contribution by a Law School' category at the annual LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards.
Presented during a ceremony at the House of Commons, the awards recognise the contribution of student pro bono in enabling access to legal advice and representation.
The Law Clinic is coordinated by second and third year students, supervised by staff and practitioners, and runs a range of pro bono projects and offers real advice and representation to clients.
It has partnerships with organisations across the city such as Citizens Advice, the British Red Cross and Plymouth City Council, as well as working with a number of schools, businesses and charities.
Rosie Brennan, Director of the Plymouth Law Clinic, said:
“As a result of legal aid cuts, there has been an increasing demand in Plymouth for the help the Law Clinic provides. We know from the feedback we receive that is a hugely valued service, in many cases offering the only form of access to justice for people who really need it. We are very fortunate to have the support of so many agencies, organisations and law firms in the city and the Clinic’s work provides a real boost for the students involved as they gain experiences that they will take with them into their future careers.”
This year the Clinic has undertaken more individual work and community engagement activities than ever before, and its ethos is to work only in areas not provided for and to raise student awareness of social justice issues.
So far this year, students have carried out work supporting around 70 people with employment law issues and providing more than 130 with family law advice.
They have worked in partnership with the British Red Cross to run a Refugee Family Reunion Clinic, assisting around 30 families forcibly separated by conflict and persecution.
They have also launched a new Welfare Tribunal project for students to help members of the public appearing at the Social Security Tribunal in Personal Independence Payment appeals.
Dr Dan Gilling, Head of the Plymouth Law School, said:
“This is tremendous recognition of the valuable work that our students do in the community through the various strands of the Law Clinic. It is testimony to the importance of experiential learning in their journey from University through to employment, where they can take this recognition and experience with them. We are very proud of our Law Clinic, and we look forward to its future growth with the ongoing support of the University.”