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Exeter Law Projects - Pro Bono

Exeter Law Projects

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 Exeter Law Projects (ELP). ELP 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.

A key legal challenge for contemporary military operations is that there are multiple grounds for the attribution of responsibility. Shared or joint control over coalition troops, derived responsibility for assisting states, the positive obligations of states under international law, and treaty obligations of signatories to instruments like the Arms Trade Treaty are not mutually exclusive. This is where the law is complex – and legal precedents and hard guidance are hard to come by.

For this project you will engage in research that explores the interplay between positive and negative obligations of states when providing assistance to partners on the frontlines. This area will benefit from a closer analysis of provisions in legal regimes that touch on responsibility for the actions of allies.

Students will work together in small teams that are willing to examine case law and legal debate on one or more posed questions. Students will be responsible for writing up a short (5-7 page) summary of relevant cases for each question, with an analysis of the strongest definitions, standards, thresholds or interpretations that emerge from their study.

This summary will then be passed to law school faculty members for review, feedback and finalisation. We will then reach out to our network of barristers and subject matter experts for comment. We will organise a meeting between students and subject matter experts to discuss the findings, after which the students can incorporate any final changes.

The final product will be a 10-page legal research paper with an Executive Summary by a subject matter expert, research from the students, and an introduction/conclusion written by the Remote Warfare Programme team. Students will be fully credited for their work.

Commitment time expected: 7-10 days to research and write the initial paper, plus an additional 5 days to incorporate feedback and finalise the text. Further time may be required, as needed.

Open to 2nd and 3rd years.

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.

Feeling lost with your legal problem? The University of Exeter Community Law Clinic can help.

In an effort to fill the gap left by legal aid cuts, the Community Law Clinic opened its doors in September 2017.

How does one enforce their rights in an overly complicated and expensive system? With help from those that are trained in such system.

Third year law students, under supervision from the legal community, provide a variety of free legal services to members of the public. These services range from simple form filling/letter writing to legal advice. Having a variety of specialized clinics, allows individuals to obtain focused and personalized attention to their cases. By collaborating with legal professionals, the students gain valuable skills, while at the same time, providing a quality service.

Together as a community, we can make a difference and provide access to justice.

Find out more.


In collaboration with the Freedom Law Clinic , student groups work on an individual Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) application which usually involves serious crime and often a complex set of legal questions, such as causation, joint enterprise or disclosure. All casework is completed remotely, using the Slack collaboration platform over a period of six weeks and supervised by an experienced criminal law solicitor.

As students have full access to extensive case papers, they gain genuine insight in to all aspects of criminal defence work, alongside the opportunity to conduct their own targeted legal research, develop specific legal knowledge and put this in to practice by drafting materials to support the CCRC application and communicate with their client.

The casework is accompanied by a comprehensive online lecture programme relevant to the issues in the case.

At the end of the six week period students may apply to join the team of volunteer caseworkers at the Freedom Law Clinic to gain a further 12 months’ pro bono experience and support the clinic’s ongoing client work.

Commitment time expected: As needed to complete tasks. This may be done in either Term 1 or Term 2.

Open to 2nd and 3rd years.

Interested in the environment and the development that is being proposed in and around Devon? Ever been to a planning inquiry? Now’s your chance. Recording is not permitted in a legal inquiry. Having a written record of the evidence and the proceedings is highly beneficial to the parties and the legal teams involved. A written record enables them to make better arguments to support their cause. Students will be general note-takers and provide assistance to legal professionals and members of the public in a legal inquiry. There may be opportunities to help further with drafting arguments for or against planning appeals. Students will gain valuable skills such as note taking, building legal arguments, and legal drafting.

Commitment time expected: Time depends on timing of inquiries.

Open to all years.

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: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/exeter/

Open to all years.

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

Students will work during term time to help with closing out certain real estate cases. At the end of the academic year, the student may have an option to do a vac scheme with Stephens Scown.

Open to all years.

Commitment time is for approximately 4 hours one day per week, on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

This new option is a research assistant to work with faculty members on their specific research projects. Your name will be entered into a spreadsheet based on your interests. When a faculty member needs help they will email you for further information and see if you are interested in their specific project. This is the general research bank. You will remain in the bank for your duration at Uni. You can take or reject work as it suits you.

Open to all years

Commitment time varies by project, not to exceed 10 hours per week.

Got organisation? We need you.

The Exeter Law Projects has a flourishing programme, with nearly 20 different projects available to students across all years. A small team of students will be responsible for coordinating the different projects. Under the supervision of Tia Matt and Natasha Bellinger, this will entail liaising with all of our external providers and ensuring communication and organization of the programme between students and said providers.

Commitment time expected: 2 hours per week.

Open to all years.

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?


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.


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 ELP pro bono supervisors at legalassistanceprogramme@exeter.ac.uk


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