Law students to provide court support

Students from Nottingham Law School are to provide practical and emotional support to people going through the court system without legal representation as part of a new volunteering scheme with the Nottingham Personal Support Unit (PSU).

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The volunteers support people in court who don't have legal representation

Students from Nottingham Law School are to provide practical and emotional support to people going through the court system without legal representation as part of a new volunteering scheme with the Nottingham Personal Support Unit (PSU).

The PSU officially opened in May 2015 and provides trained volunteers who give free, independent assistance to individuals appearing in in civil and family courts and tribunals.

This academic year 17 Nottingham Law School students will help clients in various ways, such as giving practical information, attending court, helping to fill out forms, or just providing someone to talk to.

Sara Fayaz, Nottingham PSU coordinator, said: "Volunteers listen patiently to people who are under great emotional stress and need calm and independent assistance.  Some of the clients that the PSU help are involved in cases that have a huge impact on their lives such as losing the right to see their children, being evicted from their home or losing their job. We don't offer legal advice, but we help in a practical way, explaining court procedures or helping clients to prepare court documents and fill out forms."

I want to feel that I have truly helped people who are sometimes in very difficult situations.

Volunteer and LPC student, Madelaine Lee

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Pro bono activity is run through the Legal Advice Centre

Volunteer Madelaine Lee, who is on the Legal Practice Course (LPC), said: "I was really excited to be given the opportunity to volunteer for the PSU because I think it will provide an invaluable service to people whose access to justice is increasingly more limited. I want to feel that I have truly helped people who are sometimes in very difficult situations because I want to build a career in law which is based on helping people to access justice."

"I'm also really grateful to be part of the initial intake so that I can contribute to the PSU from its inception and see how the service grows. I look forward to attend hearings with clients as the service becomes more widely known."

Fellow volunteer and LPC student,  Roisin Kavanagh, added: "I decided to volunteer to gain an insight into the court system, especially for family matters as these courts are usually private. Nottingham's PSU assists clients mainly with family and civil matters. I've had the opportunity to attend hearings with clients, supply a listening ear for their case and help with anything else clients might be struggling with such as understanding and filling out forms or signposting to appropriate agencies."

The volunteering has been arranged through Nottingham Law School's Legal Advice Centre, which oversees all of its pro bono activity and offers free legal advice to the local community on issues such as housing, property and environmental cases, and welfare and employment issues.

Since its launch in June 2014, the Centre has provided more than 10,000 hours of free legal advice. In excess of 220 Nottingham Law School students have been involved in its work, with more than 180 clients benefiting from its services. The Centre has also successfully represented and recovered in the region of £40,000 for clients with tribunal cases.

Faye Deverell, senior supervising solicitor at the Legal Advice Centre, said: "Students who volunteer for the PSU have the opportunity to obtain first-hand experience of the justice system, learning the functions and operation of the civil and family courts.  Students also gain valuable experience of speaking with varied clientele and helping to solve client's problems.

"Law students particularly benefit from developing relationships with local Judges and other legal professionals in the course of volunteering, as well as gaining a working understanding of how cases progress through Courts."

Law students to provide court support

Published on 24 November 2015
  • Category: Press office; Nottingham Law School

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