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Graduate Jessica goes full circle with ARU Law Clinic

Published: 26 January 2024 at 13:00

Jessica Richardson

Newly qualified solicitor returns to work with students six years after first volunteering

A graduate who volunteered for Anglia Ruskin University’s Law Clinic while a student has returned to the clinic to work with current students as part of her new role with a Cambridge law firm.

Jessica Richardson, 27, studied Law at ARU between 2016 and 2019 before completing the LLM Advanced Legal Practice Course the following year, and was among the first ARU students to volunteer for its Law Clinic when it was founded in 2018.

The Law Clinic at ARU works in partnership with local law firms and offers free and confidential legal advice in areas such as family, employment, immigration, personal injury and clinical negligence law for people who may otherwise not have access to legal representation.

During her studies, Jessica became a volunteer student advisor with the Law Clinic, working with local legal firms to help provide advice to people that needed it. She also assisted when the Support at Court initiative – a drop-in service at Cambridge Family Court for people seeking legal assistance on the day of their case – was introduced.

Jessica qualified into the Family Law team at Birketts LLP in September, and has now returned to the Law Clinic to work with current students to provide legal advice to clients, ensuring her journey has gone full circle. It is the first time a Law Clinic volunteer has returned to give professional advice once qualified.

Jessica, who lives in Newmarket, said:

“I chose to study at ARU because the Law School had a good network within Cambridge, offering an academic and practical platform that could help me start my career, and that proved to be the case.

“I chose to practise family law as it allows me to assist individuals during a challenging time and offer guidance in navigating complex family dynamics and legal issues. Each case and family is unique and has its own challenges, which allows me to continuously learn and adapt to new situations.

“The work the Law Clinic does is very important – it is set across the backdrop of massive cuts to public funding and a subsequent increase in people representing themselves. Having the opportunity to receive free legal advice at the Law Clinic can make a huge difference to someone emotionally and also how they decide to deal with their matter going forward.”

Since Jessica graduated, the Law Clinic has expanded to provide face-to-face services in Chelmsford as well as online assistance for people across the UK and abroad. Since it was founded in 2018, it has assisted more than 3,600 people who otherwise would not have been able to access advice.

Jessica added:

“It was a proud moment to look back and see how far I have come since volunteering but also to see how much the Law Clinic has grown over the years. I am grateful that I have been able to play different roles at the clinic and will continue to be a big advocate for the work they do.”

Director of ARU’s Law Clinic, Sarah Calder, said:

“We were thrilled to welcome back former student volunteer, now fully qualified family solicitor, Jessica Richardson.  
“Jessica is the first alumnus to return to give advice to clients in her own right and it is wonderful to have her on our panel of volunteer lawyers. To see her come full circle is a real pleasure and a testament to the value of the Law Clinic to our students who aspire to work in the local legal profession.”

To find out more about the Law Clinic at ARU, visit https://www.aru.ac.uk/business-and-law/economics-finance-and-law/law-clinic/about