Law students offer free advice to East Ham constituents
The University of East London’s acclaimed League Advice Centre is spreading its wings. A new placement scheme at the University of East London (UEL) will see eight law students volunteer their legal expertise to Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham.
In an expansion of the University’s highly successful free law clinic in Stratford, the students will work in Mr Timms’ constituency surgeries and clinics, interviewing local residents and attending to their various legal needs.
Where necessary, they will also represent them by taking up their cases with bodies such as local authorities, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Home Office.
“I’m very optimistic about this initiative,” said Patrick Koroma, Director of the Legal Advice Centre. “I believe that its unique nature will allow our students to do their very best to showcase and use their skills from their law studies to help others.”
Mr Koroma said students who applied for the placements had a powerful desire to help members of the community access free legal advice.
“This is becoming increasingly unavailable or restricted in areas such as housing, immigration and debt advice,” he said, “Our students' desire to make a positive contribution to those unable to pay for legal advice will propel them to make this project a success. They’ll have real-life experience to assist real people with real problems.”
The scheme is also part of a strategy by Mr Timms to widen access to parliamentary work experience to students from all backgrounds who would otherwise not have such an opportunity.
Students taking part in the scheme will not only have the satisfaction of helping people seeking legal advice but will also gain EMPLOY points to earn credits towards gaining certificates in employability skills and leadership.
“This is a ground-breaking scheme which will really benefit law students and local residents,” said Dr Ruth Cherrington, Employability Manager at the School of Business and Law.
“It would be wonderful to see some of our students doing stints of work in the House of Commons as well as at the usual surgeries in Newham.”
UEL’s Legal Advice Centre, based at the University Square Stratford building, has received widespread praise for the free legal clinic it provides to the local community.
Under the supervision of qualified solicitors, law students advise more than 100 people each year on areas such as contractual issues, employment, landlord and tenant disputes and welfare benefits.