University of Brighton student lawyers are to offer free assistance to people who need help with filling forms, may be worried about attending court or need advice on how courts work.
The university has joined the Community Legal Outreach Collaboration Keele (CLOCK), a joint initiative with the University of Sussex and one that was originally launched by Keele University’s law school.
By working with partner organisations, CLOCK enables students to provide assistance as well as enhancing their own legal education skills.
University of Brighton law students will act as Legal Companions to offer signposting support on family law matters, debt and housing issues.
Students have received training from a range of partner organisations, from legal firms to charities as well as from HM Courts and Tribunal Service. One student said: “The training has been great and we are really looking forward to starting.”
Jeanette Ashton, Senior Lecturer in law in the university’s Brighton Business School, said: “Demand for the scheme in Brighton has very much been driven by the family court judges who acknowledge that whilst the assistance the students can provide is limited and there is no substitute for professional legal advice, there is a need for some kind of help.
“Data will be collated from the project and this will be centralised in an IT system run by Keele which has overarching governance of the scheme.
“Research will be undertaken as the data comes through by the various university hubs and this will be fed back to the government.
“Legal Companions will have a minimum commitment of two hours a week at court or at a partner firm on a rota basis and will assist with form-filling, accompanying a litigant in court and taking notes. The training and literature provided stresses that there is no advice.
“The main aim for Legal Companions is to assist litigants in person by signposting them to appropriate services.”
For more information, contact the Brighton Family Centre, 1 Edward Street, Brighton, BN2 0JD, or call the CLOCK phone line: 01273 811338 (CLOCK is available there from 9am-3pm Tues, Weds, Thurs, and at Brighton County Court in William Street, Brighton, on Mondays and Fridays).