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University of East Anglia launches Law Clinic

Fri, 30 Nov 2012

Law students from the University of East Anglia will be sharing their expertise and gaining hands-on experience with the launch of a new Law Clinic project.

The UEA Law Clinic is a collaborative venture between students and staff from the Law School, external agencies and members of the local legal profession. 

Student members of the Law Clinic will provide free, or ‘pro bono’, legal advice and assistance to members of the local community, in collaboration with external advice agencies, and deliver community outreach sessions to raise awareness of legal issues in schools, colleges, community groups and other institutions. They will also investigate potential miscarriages of justice as part of the Innocence Project UK, and provide support services for external agencies such as the Crime Prosecution Service and the Eastern Legal Support Trust.

Senior law lecturer and director of the UEA Law Clinic, Gareth Thomas, said: “The Law Clinic project is very timely, coming ahead of the planned cuts to legal aid next year which will make legal advice unaffordable for many people in our community. Hopefully we can help them to gain access to justice by providing much-needed advice and support.

“The initiative also provides unrivalled opportunities for UEA law students to gain hands-on experience of the law in action, thereby enhancing their education and boosting their employability.”

In 2012-13, more than 160 law students are taking part in a wide range of pro bono activities co-ordinated by the Law Clinic. A Law Clinic website has also been created, to coincide with the launch of the project.

The Law Clinic project builds on a range of voluntary activities involving UEA law students, including a partnership with Norfolk Community Law Service to provide legal advice and representation, and Street Law, which introduces school children to aspects of the law through activities such as mock trials, as well as a UEA/British Red Cross Humanitarian Law project.

Head of UEA Law School Prof Alastair Mullis said: “Pro-bono work and engagement with the wider community lies at the heart of what UEA Law School is about. I am delighted that all the activities that we and our students currently offer are to be brought together under the Law Clinic project and I look forward to watching it develop over the coming years.”

The UEA Law Clinic was launched at the university last night with a reception involving students and staff, representatives from external partners, members of the Law Advisory Board and the local legal profession.

Ahead of the launch reception, members of the legal profession, including judges, barristers and senior partners of local law firms, attended a meeting at UEA chaired by Michael Napier CBE, QC, the Attorney General’s Pro Bono Envoy and a former President of the Law Society. They discussed progress on the implementation of the Civil Justice Council's report on Access to Justice for Self Represented Litigants, and what needs to be done before the introduction of the legal aid cuts in April 2013. 

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