Students are helping those most at need during lockdown by continuing a free legal advice service.
The group of second and third year law students from the University of Salford’s SILKS Law Clinic have been continuing to meet the demand for legal advice in the Greater Manchester community by running virtual law clinic appointments using Microsoft Teams.
When it opened in October, the clinic offered face to face advice on campus on issues such as employment disputes, housing problems and family law, to members of the public who mostly have been unable to get advice elsewhere due to cuts to legal aid.
Given lockdown restrictions imposed by Covid-19, face to face appointments are no longer possible, but the students were keen to continue their support using technology.
The students are given full supervision and support, and advice in these online clinics is given by qualified solicitors from the University of Salford and partner law firm Fieldings Porter.
Despite the pressure of the upcoming exam period, the dedicated team of students are still volunteering their time to assist with the running of the virtual appointments, by taking part in the Teams calls, as well as writing a summary of the advice given, which is then sent to the client.
So far, through the online appointments, the clinic has helped clients on a range of issues in family law such as access to children and divorce, as well as advising on employment issues involving race and disability discrimination.
The Law Clinic Co-Directors, Dr Michelle Waite and Christine Peacock, who are both solicitors and lecturers in the law school at the University of Salford Business School, manage and supervise the online clinics.
Christine said: “We decided to open some online clinics to keep students engaged during this time but also to help meet the need for free legal advice which, in the current crisis, has not gone away.
“The clinics give the students the opportunity to continue to work on their legal skills, giving them valuable experience whilst also continuing to help people in the local community.”
Michelle said: “The students are just brilliant, they have taken it all in their stride and have adapted incredibly well to working virtually.”
The clinic is run as part of SILKS (Salford Information and Legal Knowledge Scheme) and is a partnership between the University of Salford and law firms Ward Hadaway and Fieldings Porter.