Published: 12 September 2017
For many ordinary people, receiving high-quality legal advice is simply a pipe dream, with a large portion of the general public priced out of such services. However, here at Sunderland, the University’s Student Law Clinic is changing the way people in the city think about legal cases.
Josh Edwards in the Moot court, situated within the Reg Vary Centre
The clinic, based at our St Peter’s Campus, is operated and run by final year Law students as part of a module, giving quality assistance to those who need it and providing students with an unparalleled experience of the legal world.
For Josh Edwards, who himself graduated in Law from Sunderland and now manages the clinic, being able to help those who previously couldn’t afford or access legal aid has been a deeply fulfilling experience. “It’s great as it allows us to help people who maybe can’t afford legal representation, and at the same time the students are getting the educational benefit in that they can practice law,” he says.
The Law Clinic can offer advice to clients in a variety of different areas, from divorce cases to tenancy disputes. As part of the team here, you will be involved in interviewing clients both over the phone and in-person, discussing the merits of taking on the case with your supervisor and conducting research before writing and filing your report and sending a letter of advice to your client.
LLB’s require a large amount of theoretical work, but Josh believes that gaining experience in the clinic and developing skills in the real world are the key to unlocking your potential as a law student. “Here, you’re actually learning the practical implications of what you’re studying and you can see the effects of that,” he says. “At the end of the day, you’re dealing with real life clients and you have to react. You can’t just put it off until the last minute like you might with an essay. You can’t learn this sort of stuff from a textbook.”
In an increasingly crowded jobs market, employers are placing a high value on real-life experience, and Josh feels that the opportunity to gain that experience at Sunderland, combined with the chance to develop practical skills in a real-world environment, puts the University firmly at the front of the queue for aspiring Law students.
“You can’t learn this sort of stuff from a textbook.”
He continues: “We are focusing our degrees towards practical education, and having the experience that employers want. It’s not just about coming out of university with a degree anymore, it’s about working in real life environments and showing you can do it.”
Here at Sunderland, our department’s ethos is to create a strong community environment, and our lecturers will take a hands-on approach to all aspects of your study, including helping with any Law Clinic related cases if you need it. Having this sense of spirit and camaraderie makes Sunderland unique, according to Josh.
“I’m a former graduate myself from Sunderland and was lucky enough to get kept on in this role helping current students to run the clinic. It’s a great environment to work in, we've a great community here, and we fully believe in what we’re doing and the projects we undertake. Helping students has been an inspiration.”