As a second-year law student at ARU, I’ve had the opportunity to be a volunteer adviser at the University's Law Clinic in Cambridge. It’s been unforgettable and I want to share my experience.
Set up in 2018, the law clinics in Cambridge and Chelmsford are there to help people who need legal advice in fields such as family law and employment law, but are unable to afford it.
In the last 18 months the clinic has helped over 1,000 clients and this service is provided by law student volunteers from ARU and local lawyers.
The clinic has sessions for family law and other sessions for employment law matters. In light of recent legal cuts and the increase in demand for legal advice, this really benefits the local community while giving students like me invaluable work experience.
As a student adviser, you get the chance to work alongside amazing lawyers while experiencing a real-life legal scenario. It is an excellent opportunity for the students to contribute to the community and increase our own graduate prospects.
Firstly, a team of two student advisers get to interview the client and talk them through the procedures and paperwork. It is our job to understand the legal aspects of the issue and report it to the attending lawyer. After we brief the attending lawyer, they meet the client and a student adviser stays in the room to take notes. The adviser then gets to work through the notes with the lawyer, types them up and sends electronic versions to the client. After the appointment, student advisers offer the client a feedback form.
ARU Law Clinic also provides Support at Court sessions every Wednesday to the Cambridge County Court situated on East Road.
A team of student advisers, alongside supervisors, attends the Court and assists people who are representing themselves at the Court. Even though, as student advisers we cannot speak at the Court for the clients, we can assist them to get prepared for the hearing. We can:
- listen and summarise their case
- recommend what documents the Court might ask for and check what the client has
- raise specific issues which might assist the judges in their decision-making
- help them be aware of what to expect
- provide moral support.
The student advisers are usually allowed to sit with the client at the Court during the hearing. I have met many clients who were extremely grateful for the moral and legal support provided. They even took ARU Law Clinic’s details to contact the Clinic in future.
The overall service provided by ARU Law Clinic is invaluable to the community and to students. Last year, I was lucky to be able to attend the Law Society Awards where our very own Law Clinic got shortlisted for excellence in Pro Bono work. I am absolutely thrilled to have met the President of Law Society for England and Wales at such an early stage of my career. Truly, ARU Law Clinic is just a great asset to our community and to all the students of ARU.
If you're interested in studying law in Cambridge or Chelmsford, come along to an Open Day to find out more about our LLB and LLM courses, and life at ARU.