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University law firm awarded for tackling community legal needs during the pandemic

A Nottingham law firm which offers free and low-cost legal advice has scooped an award for its commitment to addressing unmet legal needs in the local community, particularly during the pandemic.

Inside the Legal Advice Centre
The Centre has achieved financial awards for its clients totalling more than £5.5 million

Nottingham Law School Legal Advice Centre, part of Nottingham Trent University, was awarded Best Contribution by a Small or Medium Firm at the LawWorks Pro Bono Awards 2021.

The Legal Advice Centre was the first SRA regulated law firm fully integrated into a law school in the UK and provides pro bono advice across a range of service areas. It is staffed by a small team of qualified solicitors and legal case workers, student volunteers and practitioner academics.

To date the Centre has achieved financial awards for its clients totalling more than £5.5 million. For the year ending August 2021, it dealt with 162 cases across nine different service areas, with a total of over £995,000 secured for clients. Its welfare benefits service achieved an average award in excess of £28,000 per client. The Centre has also provided practical work experience to more than 580 students.

Despite the challenges encountered by having to move to a remote service due to Covid, the Centre increased its services during the pandemic. This included the re-launch and significant expansion of its housing service; provision of online resources relating to furlough, which have been accessed more than 380 times; delivery of seminars to community interest groups on Covid related topics; and the introduction of a wholly not-for-profit IP advice service from a specialist trademark attorney, helping those starting new businesses during the pandemic.

The Centre also expanded its Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) service, which supports families of children with special educational needs who are appealing local authority education and support decisions, including successfully completing its first SEND tribunal and mediation cases.

As part of its growth, the Centre also introduced a new service for victims of crime, offering advice in relation to the Victim’s Right to Review Scheme, the application process that enables victims to challenge a decision by the police or CPS not to prosecute a suspect.

Head of the Legal Advice Centre, Laura Pinkney, said: “All of our initiatives are taken in pursuit of our aim to provide access to justice to those who cannot afford, or otherwise access, legal services. We are committed to providing a high-quality pro bono service and our clients have the reassurance that dealing with an SRA regulated entity provides. This is extremely rare in the regulated sector, both in England and Wales, but also in the international sector.

“Whilst our services have needed to adapt as a result of Covid, all of the above have been introduced or developed to address an unmet legal need in the community.”

Executive Dean of Nottingham Law School, Jenny Chapman, said: “This is a huge achievement for the Centre, which was up against a range of law firms in the category, not just other university law clinics. The team truly deserve this award, particularly in view of the life changing impact they have on their clients; their achievement in expanding and developing services and student opportunities, notwithstanding the pandemic; and their commitment to raising the profile and awareness of the importance of pro bono work.”

The Awards recognise and celebrate the pro bono commitment of LawWorks members, their charity and corporate partners, and the work of independent clinics in the LawWorks clinics network.

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

    NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 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.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With over 37,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University injects £1.6bn into the UK economy. It has been the largest recruiter of UK undergraduates in each of the last four years. With an international student population of more than 6,000 and an NTU community representing around 160 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.

University law firm awarded for tackling community legal needs during the pandemic

Published on 8 December 2021
  • Category: Press office; Nottingham Law School

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