Nottingham’s ‘teaching law firm’ recoups more than £3m in benefits and compensation for local community

More than £3 million in benefits and compensation has been recovered for members of the Nottinghamshire community by the Legal Advice Centre at Nottingham Law School in the last five years.

The Legal Advice Centre is run as a ‘teaching law firm’, with parallels to teaching hospitals in the medical profession. It was the first of its kind when it was granted a licence to operate as a fully regulated law firm in 2015.

Since its inception, more than 2,100 student volunteers have worked on over 1,900 real-life cases through the Centre, providing a vital service to those who would not otherwise have access to justice.

Supervised by qualified solicitors, students support clients with a range of legal issues either through modules within the curriculum, or by volunteering in addition to their study.

They work in legal areas such as employment, housing law, business support and commercial law, social justice, criminal law, family law, community legal issues and tribunal and court representation – including the only free tribunal representation service in and around Nottingham supervised by qualified lawyers.

Mr John Balmforth, from Bakersfield Nottingham, suffers from cognitive difficulties and chronic back pain. He approached the Legal Advice Centre when his Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application was unsuccessful. An appeal was led by a legal assistant, whose written and oral advocacy secured up to £45,000 for Mr Balmforth and saw him awarded PIP at the enhanced rate for both the Daily Living and Mobility components of PIP for an indefinite period.

Mr Balmforth said: "I rely heavily on those around me to help me perform simple but essential day-to-day tasks and mobilise safely. If my PIP Appeal was not successful, it would have had a huge impact on my life. The support from the LAC not only secured my payments, but it also helped me to restore my independence and wellbeing."

Miss Holly Wright, of Netherfield, was also supported in a PIP case by the Legal Advice Centre after her rate was changed following a review. An appeal led to Miss Wright also receiving an enhanced rate for both Daily Living and Mobility components, an award worth up to £16,000 over the lifetime of the benefit.

Miss Wright, who has fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, said: “My advisor really understood my needs and struggles and was very reassuring throughout the whole process and on the day of the tribunal in court. If we hadn’t won the appeal I would not have all the help and support I have now, which enables me to be mobile inside and outside my home.”

The Centre also offers a unique Business and Enterprise Law Service which gives free or low-cost advice to local social enterprises, small businesses and start-ups.

Head of the Legal Advice Centre, Laura Pinkney, said: “It is important that the lawyers of the future have a sense of social and civic responsibility and a willingness to give back to their local community. The students who work in the Legal Advice Centre are providing a a quality service to those in Nottinghamshire who need support to access justice.”

The Centre also runs public legal education projects to raise awareness amongst the local community of individual legal rights and responsibilities.

Dean of Nottingham Law School, Professor Janine Griffiths-Baker, said: “For the Legal Advice Centre to have recouped more than £3 million for its clients in a mere five years is outstanding. It demonstrates that colleagues and students at the Centre are working hard to meet an otherwise unmet legal need in a vacuum created by government legal aid cuts.

“Their work is not only benefiting individual members of the community who could not otherwise access justice, but also our local community groups, external advice agencies, charities, community projects and small businesses.”

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2017 at the Times Higher Education Awards, and Modern University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    NTU has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    NTU is one of the largest UK universities. With 30,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. It is one of the UK’s most environmentally friendly universities, containing some of the sector’s most inspiring and efficient award-winning buildings. 96% of its graduates go on to employment or further education within six months of leaving.

    Our student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 88% satisfaction score in the 2018 National Student Satisfaction Survey.
    The University is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable Nottingham Trent to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    NTU is home to world-class research, and won The Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015 – the highest national honour for a UK university. It recognised the University’s pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage; enable safer production of powdered infant formula; and combat food fraud.

    With an international student population of over 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook

Nottingham’s ‘teaching law firm’ recoups more than £3m in benefits and compensation for local community

Published on 13 March 2019
  • Subject area: Law, criminology and justice
  • Category: Press office; Nottingham Law School

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