In the 2016-17 academic year we saw 200 students participating in 11 different pro bono programmes.

Pro bono programmes bring benefits for all

Over the last two years, the law school has developed a flourishing pro bono programme with the creation of the Legal Assistance Programme (LAP). In the 2016-17 academic year we saw 200 students participating in 11 different pro bono programmes spanning across the civil, family, and criminal areas. These programmes include collaborations with the local judiciary, police, and barristers/solicitors, as well as work with various charities. Students have helped vulnerable individuals inside and outside of the court room.

The Personal Support Unit is just one of the opportunities students were able to volunteer their time with. This charity aims to help reduce the disadvantage of people facing the civil and family justice system without a lawyer by plugging the gap for those who cannot afford a lawyer and are not eligible for legal aid. Michael Hanton (LLB 2017) said of his volunteering:

‘Volunteering at the PSU provided me with a new perspective on what it means to serve the community. On a daily basis I dealt with clients who were often going through the worst parts of their lives, and with nobody to help guide them through the process. Any help that I could offer was greatly appreciated, whether it was accompanying clients into court, or just having a cup of tea with them while they vented about their case ‘

Another strand is the Student Appeals Project which involves students working alongside a supervising solicitor, researching cases which are the subject of a criminal appeal. Niall Brooks (DLP 2006) solicitor says:

‘Purely because of the dedication and interest I’m always met with at Exeter University working with the students there has revitalized my own approach, which I hope feeds back to them.’

Coming in 2017-18, the programme is adding clinical programmes where students will be actively working on cases under supervision. The Immigration law, Environmental law, and Insurance law clinics will be full advice clinics, while the Access to Justice Clinic will run as a 30 credit non-advice module. This module will provide a pro bono public service to the community by holding fortnightly drop-in clinics for members of the public in the Exeter city centre. More details on each programme can be found at our webpage.

Date: 17 August 2017

Read more University News