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“Five things we’re most proud of”: Law Clinic students reflect on their 2018-19 achievements

Image credit: TJ See

Press release issued: 7 May 2019

A functioning justice system means access to both the courts and legal advice for all who need it. Yet, with cuts to legal aid, society’s most vulnerable are being left unprotected. The University of Bristol Law Clinic seeks to address this by providing pro-bono legal advice, supporting those that most need it to get the justice they deserve. We took a look back at the initiatives and progress that the Law Clinic has achieved over the course of this academic year.

Outgoing Law Clinic Student Director and final year law student, Saffron Lim talked to us about the much-needed support that the Law Clinic has been able to offer to the wider community and its greatest achievements this academic year.

We re-established our Bristol Drugs Project Drop-ins

This year we were able to re-establish our fortnightly drop-in sessions with Bristol Drugs Project (BDP) at their base in Brunswick Square. These sessions involve students engaging with clients who attend BDP and offer support and assistance regarding any legal issues they may be facing, while struggling with their addiction. In order to provide a service that positively impacts our clients, our team undertook ‘sensitivity training’ at BDP’s offices, giving them useful insights into the best ways to approach the unique challenges they will face when taking up these cases. Hopefully, our involvement with BDP will grow from strength to strength, allowing the Clinic to continue to provide our legal focused support to such an important community organisation.

Our Pub-Quiz and raffle fundraiser raised money for CLIC Sargent

This year, alongside our annual pub quiz, we held a charity raffle to raise funds for CLIC Sargent, a nationwide charity that provides support to young cancer patients and their families following a diagnosis. The event, held at Zero Degrees Microbrewery, was a success with over 60 attendees enjoying the pizza, drinks and pub quiz fun. The raffle prizes were generously donated by local Bristol businesses and included a whole tray of brownies, gift vouchers and hampers, while Bristol based law firm Osborne Clarke, sponsored the pub quiz. In total, the raffle raised a grand sum of £455, an incredible amount that will go a long way to aiding the important work that CLIC Sargent does for the Bristol Community.

We received a LawWorks Pro Bono Awards 2018 Nomination

The LawWorks Pro Bono Awards celebrate achievements made in enabling access to justice and supporting, individuals, communities and not-for-profit organisation through legal pro bono work. This year, our Law Clinic was nominated under the ‘Best Contribution by a Pro Bono Clinic’ category, and we were represented at the ceremony, held on 3 December 2018 at the Law Society in London, by three generations of Student Directors: Rhona Egerton (2016-2017), Bethane Harland (2017-2018) and myself. Even though we did not win our category, being nominated was a huge honour and serves as motivation to continue our good work.            

We helped inspire a delegation of lawyers from Myanmar 

In March 2019, the Law Clinic welcomed a delegation of four lawyers from Myanmar as part of a fact-finding trip to help inform the establishment of legal clinics at universities in Yangon. During the meeting, the representatives spoke with us about how legal clinic’s at universities can support vulnerable communities in accessing justice. We outlined how the Law Clinic operates in providing a pro bono service to the community and in educating students on running cases and applying the law in practice. Their visit also gave us an invaluable opportunity to learn about the differences in the legal systems between Myanmar and the UK as well as meet inspirational and dedicated lawyers who are doing amazing things in the pursuit of justice.

We established new Bristol Mind Drop-ins

This year, fortnightly drop-in sessions with Bristol Mind were establish to provide advice to vulnerable clients, struggling with legal issues. In order to prepare for the potentially sensitive situations that may arise, participating students attended a mental health training session held at Bristol Mind to understand the wide variety of conditions that affect some of their clients and how to best respond to these sensitive cases. Given that mental health is quickly becoming a large issue, the service provides an incredibly valuable role in ensuring such individuals have their voices heard, and the Law Clinic team is happy to contribute our efforts to furthering the aims of Bristol Mind within the local community.

Further information

The University of Bristol’s Law Clinic provides pro-bono legal advice, supporting those that most need it to get the justice they deserve - whilst students gain the very best clinical legal education through the provision of a valuable social service that has the power to change lives. You can read more about the work of the Clinic on their website.

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