A new legal advice clinic, operated by Law students at Staffordshire University, is set to offer support to vulnerable people.
Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) will see final year students provide formal written legal advice on a range of issues covering housing, family, consumer, and employment, following a face to face interview with the client.
It aims to give students real life experience of cases, but also offer help to those who would not normally be able to access free legal advice.
Senior lecturer and solicitor Tracey Horton will be supervising the clinic.
She said: “Increasingly people are struggling to get legal advice because of legal aid cuts, court closures and expensive court fees. To add to this, many advice agencies are also having their budgets slashed which makes the situation much worse.
"The people needing this advice are ordinary people dealing with every day issues such as divorce, access to children, loss of jobs and personal injury.
"You may get clients that come in with a carrier bag of documents and empty it out on the table, then ask for help with it.
"You can't recreate that in a classroom.
"The best thing about the clinic is that the students are learning before they go into employment, so they can hit the ground running and be more employable at the end of their degree."
Jess, one of our students tells us why she is proud to be part of SULAC. pic.twitter.com/ng1n5RI1v6— Staffordshire Uni (@StaffsUni) November 7, 2018
The clinics are also taking constituency referrals from Stoke Central MP Gareth Snell.
He said: “Access to justice is a basic human right and I’m delighted that Staffordshire University are taking the initiative where there is clear demand and pressures on advice agencies is high.
"SULAC will be offering a much needed service in the community.”
SULAC operates during term time at:
- The Dudson Centre, Hanley, every Monday - 10am to 4pm
- Signpost, Stafford, every Tuesday - 10.30am to 2.30pm
- HMP Stafford, the first Friday of the month 10.30am to 4.00pm
- Shrewsbury Hospital, second Friday of the month - 11.30am to 3.30pm
Tracey added: “The new service has been well received, particularly at Signpost which is a grass roots community hub well-used by residents in Stafford.
“Booking for appointments is going well with visitors saying what a fantastic service we are providing. The students have really thrived in the interviews situations and are totally engaged.
"The work has been carried out to a high standard so we’re off to a great start.”
The clinic will not be advising on criminal and immigration cases and will not be offering debt counselling.