Legal advice clinics launched
The School of Law celebrated the official launch of its free legal advice clinics on Thursday 16th March. Two particular projects were celebrated: the 'pop-up' clinics, and the welfare rights clinic.
Since April 2016, the 'pop-up' clinics have brought volunteering students, pro bono lawyers and community partners together to provide free legal advice services to members of the local public, within the community setting. To date, together with Citizens Advice Chapeltown, PATH Yorkshire, Gateways @ Chapeltown Development Trust, Simpson Millar solicitors, Rebian solicitors, Blacks solicitors, Zenith Chambers and Broadway House Chambers, the pop-up clinics have provided free advice in family law, housing law, employment law and business law. Students have supported lawyers and community organistions on 16 pop-up clinics, assisting members of the public who could not otherwise afford legal advice.
Volunteers on the welfare rights clinic work with Leeds City Council's Welfare Rights Unit, providing support to Personal Indepdent Payment (PIP) applicants. PIP provides financial assistance to people aged 16 - 64 who have a long-term disability, or who are experiencing long-term ill-health: applicants for this benefit can find it difficult to complete the application form independently, so the student volunteers work with applicants on a one-to-one basis to help them to do so. Between 31 October 2016 and 10 March 2017 the students assisted a total of 90 clients. Of these 32 have had a decision on their PIP claim and 21 have been granted the payment. This equates to weekly benefit gains of £1788.75, with projected annual gains totalling £93,015.
Lydia Bleasdale-Hill, Director of Clinics, expressed the School's thanks to the student volunteers, pro bono lawyers, and community partners for all of their work to date: 'As a School, we very much believe that we have a responsibility to support our students to become both global and local citizens: these projects provide our students with the opportunity to contribute in a powerful, lasting way to members of the local community, whilst also broadening their understanding of what 'access to justice' truly means: we are indebted to our community partners and to our pro bono lawyers, who have placed their trust in us, and in our students, to deliver on behalf of their clients.'