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Legal Assistance Programme (LAP) - Pro Bono

Exeter Law School Legal Assistance Programme

The Law School is committed to delivering a curriculum that blends doctrine with practice and to give its students opportunities to observe or participate in activities involving the application of the law.  It is with this in mind that the Law School created the Legal Assistance Programme (LAP). The LAP has many streams of pro bono opportunities and a general appeal for interest is circulated to students in September of each academic year.

Want to join a nationwide pro bono initiative? Concerned about poverty and human rights? The JLAP movement is a sub-section of the new Oxfam Lawyers Against Poverty Group and is concerned with international development, poverty and human rights issues. Junior Lawyers network of students (both law and non-law) organise on-campus fundraising events, visiting speaker events, academic articles and on and off-campus training in issues related to international law and development. As part of the project, we are also have a twinning programme to match students in the UK with law students in developing countries.

Open to all years.

Commitment time expected: monthly meetings plus additional hours leading up to events, training, and writing articles.

Networking! Need an excuse to ring up one of our local firms? Now you have one. One of the most crippling issues for providing legal services is the lack of funding. Most individuals are willing to give; they just need to be given the opportunity. A group of students will be tasked with designing and organizing fundraising events.

Open to all years.

Commitment time expected: monthly meetings plus additional hours leading up to events and event attendance.

Wonder what it is like to be a judge? Go behind the scenes with local judges at the Exeter combined courts. Students spend two days with a district court judge, looking at cases, spending time in court and discussing judicial decisions. 

Open to 2nd and 3rd years.

Commitment time expected: 2 full days in term 2.

Did you know that the police department has their own lawyers and legal services? The police forces are faced with many legal issues on a daily basis. The legal department provides not only an essential advice service to the forces, but also provides crucial services to the public in the form of presentation of applications such as Sexual Harm Prevention orders in hearings.

There are three different opportunities with the police with various times of commitment:

  1. A vacation scheme work experience for a one week period during the term breaks. (total of one week)
  2. Solicitor shadowing during a case hearing. (multiple opportunities throughout the year to go to court)
  3. On call research group to provide research back up for the solicitors. (on call as needed through term time)


Open to all years.

Commitment time expected: See descriptions above.

Concerned about the increased number of Litigants in Person (LIPs)? Wondering how you can help? LIPs find themselves often unaware of their rights or how to proceed through the legal system. Together with the Personal Support Unit (PSU), students are able to aid LIPs through support in the areas of form filing, hearing preparation, and court room attendance. There are volunteer openings for term time as well as holiday vacation schemes. If you have taken or are taking the family law module, this is particularly suited for you.

Open to all years.

Commitment time expected: 4 hours every two weeks for term time position or 2 continuous weeks for vacation scheme.

Have you watched “Making a Murderer” or listened to the “Serial” podcast? Concerned about injustices in the criminal system? Then the Student Appeals Project (SAP) is for you. The SAP involves students working alongside a supervising solicitor, researching cases, which are the subject of a criminal appeal.

Open to 2nd and 3rd years.

Commitment time expected: independent research time as needed plus 2 hour monthly meetings.

Got mad research or organizational skills? Then, this is this is the project for you. Magdalen Chambers is the largest Chambers southwest of Bristol and they are looking for a few good students to provide support to their barristers.

There are three different opportunities with Magdalen with various times of commitment:

  1. Research assistance (civil) (e.g. personal injury, employment, tort, contract, land and property). A group of students will be on call to provide research support to the barristers on case law for appeals, long running hearings etc. This may include researching and providing information for the Chambers website and social media.
  2. Research assistance (family) (e.g. divorce, care). A group of students will be on call to provide research support to the barristers on case law for appeals, long running hearings etc. This may include researching and providing information for the Chambers website and social media.
  3. Practical assistance. Attendance and help at Chambers’ events, opportunities to network and practical opportunities within Chambers (e.g. sorting papers, bundles, taking a note for a barrister’s use only).


Open to all years.

Commitment time expected: independent research time as needed for the research assistance. Time will vary for the practical assistance; larger time commitment leading up to events.

Do you know how to get a divorce? How to start a business? Many people that want to get a divorce or start a business, do not know how or where to start or what services are available to them. Students will be trained to provide public legal education sessions on these types of topics. These sessions will be given at various locations within our community.

Open to all years.

Commitment time expected: attend training (up to a few hours per week) and event sessions (potentially monthly).

Be a part of one of the largest advice providers in the UK. The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) provides support to some of the most disadvantaged individuals in our community. The CAB will be training students to be assessors.  Initially you will work the reception desk, being the first point of contact, as you gain your training. The assessor role will involve dealing with the public via the Devon Adviceline, taking brief history of the client’s situation, looking at information resources available to them for self-help and if needs be organising an advice appointment in their local office. Most clients have debt and housing issues. Some placements will be assigned to the Newton Abbot (CAB). Transportation costs may be provided.

Open to all years.

Commitment time expected: one ½ day per week plus training time.

 

Want to see how contracts work in the real world? Signing a contract has important legal consequences. The Advice unit will train students to be contract advisors. As an advisor you will help students by reviewing their tenancy agreements before they sign them.

Open to 1st and 2nd years (2nd years must have received a first in Contracts).

Commitment time expected: a few hours per week during Jan-March, plus training time.

Since cuts to legal aid that came into effect in 2013, many individuals living locally who previously qualified for legal aid now struggle to access free legal advice. For immigration cases not automatically covered by legal aid, individuals must apply directly to the Legal Aid Agency to ask for help funding the legal costs of their case.  These applications are known as applications for ‘Exceptional Case Funding’ (or ECF) applications. ECF applications can be complex to draft, as individuals must state the nature of their case, why they are requesting help with their legal fees and why they could not represent themselves. Some applicants do not speak English as their first language, or have limited literacy in English. The Legal Aid Agency has a duty to provide funding for free legal advice if an applicant’s human rights would otherwise be breached, however, they do not provide funding for legal representatives to apply for ECF on behalf of potential clients.

Students will assist individuals with ECF applications, where the individuals have rights-based immigration claims and would be otherwise unable to secure free legal advice. Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Provide a valuable service supporting access to justice for individuals who would otherwise be unable to access free immigration advice;
  • Work with refugee and migrant communities;
  • Gain important practical experience of completing legal aid forms;
  • Receive training on how to complete ECF applications and learn about the provision of legal aid.

Open to 3rd years.

Commitment time expected: one half day per week plus training time. 

With the decrease in Legal Aid, we have seen an increase in LIPs and vulnerable persons. Maneuvering the legal system is daunting, even with a lawyer. Many individuals now faced with going it alone find themselves lost and confused and often give up, thus losing their opportunity to access justice. This 30 credit 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 area. It will provide you with first-hand experience in working with the public. After initial training and observing, you will have the opportunity to provide basic legal information, not advice, in the areas of criminal justice, housing, disability, and employment law to those individuals that attend the drop-in clinics. As lawyers, we have a responsibility to those that need the legal system. This is an opportunity for you, as a future lawyer, to develop your legal skills while helping those in need.

More information will be available soon.

Between the flux in law and policy and a negative image, immigrants find themselves lost in the system. The Immigration clinic provides a first stop service to immigrants enabling them to find a pathway forward. Services include providing limited advice and signposting. The clinic prioritises representing those individuals with the most need and vulnerability. Under the supervision of local barristers and solicitors, students have the opportunity to develop a variety of professional skills, including client interviewing, fact investigation, specialised legal research, and legal writing and drafting.

Open to students taking the Immigration Law module.

Coming in 2017-18.  More information available soon.

Everyone deserves to have a voice in matters affecting their environment. In collaboration with the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), the Environmental Law Clinic takes on cases involving environmental law issues. Services include information and advice to individuals and communities. Under the supervision of local barristers and solicitors, students have the opportunity to develop a variety of professional skills, including client interviewing, fact investigation, specialised legal research, and legal writing and drafting.

Open to students taking the Environmental law and Planning module.

Since significant legal aid cutbacks were made under LASPO the numbers of litigants in person (LIPs) attending civil and family courts have dramatically increased. Many of these people find themselves lost in the system with very little understanding of basic procedure and what is required.

The scheme involves students delivering information sessions to LiPs about the court process. Sessions last approximately 40 minutes. These sessions inform LiPs on what to expect on their day in court, what services may be available to assist them, the meaning of terminology that could be used during their hearing and how best to prepare for their court appearance. Attending court informed can have a significant positive impact on the LiPs experience at court.

Open to all years.

Commitment time expected: a total of five hours, including training, for one session (each student will perform one session).

Would you like some hands on experience with a local charity that has a national profile?  You will gain great experience working within this busy office. Working with the I&A Manager, and a team of experienced volunteers, you will have a chance to develop skills in form filling, advising on benefits and helping Clients navigate the maze which is health and social care. There are volunteer openings for term time as well as during vacation times. More about the organisation here: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/exeter/our-services-age-uk-exeter/information--advice-exeter/

Open to all years.

Commitment time expected: 3 hours per week in term time or an intensive vacation placement.

What is Pro Bono?

Pro bono publico (often shortened to pro bono) is a Latin phrase meaning “for the good of the people.” For lawyers this constitutes giving up time to work for free. However, unlike traditional volunteerism, pro bono services leverage the skills of legal professionals to help those who are unable to afford a lawyer for themselves. Pro bono is a key element of most law firms as it enables them to add value to the firm’s corporate social responsibility, whilst allowing them to give something back to the community. Pro bono is even more important with the legal aid cuts of April 2013: less people have access to legal representation or legal advice.

Why volunteer?

You      

As a student of Law, the pro bono programme will:

  1. Give you a better understanding of the subjects you are learning about which will deepen with knowledge of their practical application.
  2. Help to enhance your CV and your employability skills. You will also experience other ways in which you may wish to develop your career path.
  3. Connect you with the local legal community.

Community

The local community will benefit from your volunteering commitment to the project.  This will generate good relationships between the School of Law, its students and the wider population of the region.

If you have any questions or problems, please contact the LAP pro bono supervisors at legalassistanceprogramme@exeter.ac.uk

Contacts

If you have any questions or problems, please contact the LAP pro bono supervisors at legalassistanceprogramme@exeter.ac.uk

The following academics are involved in the programme: