Baroness Hale of Richmond, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, officially opened Liverpool Law Clinic’s new premises in the Eleanor Rathbone building.
Liverpool Law Clinic, which was established five years ago, offers free legal advice to the local community provided by final year law students working under the supervision of qualified lawyers.
It provides students with the opportunity to develop legal skills within a practice context to maximise their employment prospects on graduation.
The Clinic offers advice on a range of legal issues including family law, landlord and tenants’ rights, employment law and consumer rights and this year launched ‘Free Legal Advice for Migrants and Asylum-seekers’ (FLAMA). This gives students experience of substantive asylum and immigration cases under the supervision of specialist in-house immigration solicitors and barristers.
Located in the Eleanor Rathbone Building, Myrtle Street, the Clinic’s new purpose-built facility features a reception area, three interview rooms, two student computer suites for completing casework and offices for relevant staff.
Baroness Hale, who received an Honorary Degree from the University on the same day as officially opening the new clinic premises, said: “It was truly visionary of the University of Liverpool to open the Liverpool Law Clinic. I am not sure that, five years ago, anyone could have foreseen quite what has happened to the publicly funded legal services sector and how acute the need would be for clinics like this.
“Providing such a facility will help to secure access to justice for some of the most vulnerable people who would not otherwise have it, and provides valuable legal experience for students.”
Professor Fiona Beveridge, Head of the School of Law and Social Justice, said: “The University’s high quality legal education is always evolving to meet the needs and aspirations of its students. Liverpool Law Clinic helps Law graduates who are expected to leave University ‘employment ready’, who face increased competition for training places and who need to demonstrate the competences required to enter practice.
“As austerity cuts to legal aid have come into play, the Clinic has been much in demand as practices and advice-giving charities around the region have looked for ways to mitigate the harshest effects of these cuts.
“We have teamed up with North Liverpool Citizen Advice Bureau and Merseyside Welfare Rights where students have been trained to complete claim forms and represent clients in employment tribunals and a group of students have also completed training enabling them to play an important role in assisting a local law firm with Hillsborough-related matters.”
During her visit to Liverpool Law Clinic, Lady Hale and her husband, Julian Farrand QC spent time with student advisors, undergraduate law students and staff.
She also presented Liverpool Law Clinic’s 2012-13 Awards. Emma Klieve won the award for `Best Law Clinic Student’ and Marie Ball was presented with the award for `Outstanding Contribution to Pro Bono Work’. ‘Best Contribution by Volunteer Practitioner’ was jointly awarded to Alison Smullen, of Hill Dickinson Solicitors and Gaynor Williams, of Bennett Williams Solicitors.