A new pro-bono legal clinic at the University of Brighton will provide legal advice for members of the public on issues such as business, housing, employment and more.
The clinic was launched by Brontie Ansell, Senior Lecturer in the Brighton Business School, and will see law students giving free legal advice to clients under the supervision of Brontie, other academics and local lawyers. It is open on the last Tuesday of the month with plans to expand to once a week very soon, booking is by prior appointment only at present. The clinic is currently based in Mithras House on the University’s Moulsecoomb campus.
Students who are enrolled on the third-year Justice and Practice module work in the clinic and will be allocated clients, who they will then interview under supervision and provide legal advice to. Brontie will sit in on the vast majority of interviews with support from local barrister’s chambers 1 Crown Office Row, who are also sponsoring the clinic, and law firm Irwin Mitchell.
The students are involved in every aspect of running the clinic, participating in management decisions and marketing tasks such as distributing print literature around Brighton and Hove.
Eventually the clinic aims to expand its reach to encompass legal issues such as: social welfare law, employment litigation, climate justice work (including pollution, planning and energy law), unlawful arrests at climate protests and gender discrimination cases.
Brontie said: “Initially when I first started the project, I worried about whether we’d have any clients, but as the year has gone on, I have realised the need for good quality, free, well-supervised legal advice is immense in Brighton and Hove. For my students, I think they feel like they want to give something back to the community, but of course they also get recognition on their degree transcript and that counts towards their degree classification. So the module is supporting the clinic and vice versa.”
The roots of the clinic can be traced back to January 2018, when Brontie and other academics in the Brighton Business School were having conversations about practical legal education for students. Out of those discussions, they realised the department had sufficient resources available to set up an advice centre.
Brontie said that the research and development of the clinic has been her life for the last year or so! Her fledgling initiative received backing from both the Brighton Business School management and the University Executive Board, who both thought it fitted with the University’s ‘Practical Wisdom’ strategy.
Brontie said “I liked the idea of giving something back to the community in terms of free legal advice, and it sits well within the practitioner role I trained for. I also love helping students get to a place where they understand practice and know for sure it is for them. All that made me think, wow, this is a really exciting project for me, and I’m really happy to see what I can do with it.”
For more information about the clinic, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 641396.