A new director and vision for Essex Law Clinic

  • Date

    Fri 8 Dec 17

Professor Donald Nicolson

Essex Law Clinic has appointed a new director and embarked upon an ambitious five year plan for expansion.

Professor Donald Nicolson OBE arrived at Essex in September having established a highly successful law clinic at the University of Strathclyde in 2003. The Strathclyde clinic was based on another clinic Donald had previously set up at the University of Bristol, which has since developed into the UK's largest law clinic, providing not only advice but also court representation in numerous fields. Professor Nicolson has arrived at Essex with a five year plan aiming to emulate and even surpass these previous achievements.

“Clinics are recognised for their value, not only to the community at large, but to each new generation of lawyers. I am looking forward to seeing this potential being realised at the University of Essex.”
Professor Donald Nicolson Director of Essex Law Clinic

His vision involves putting student volunteers at the heart of the clinic’s activities and management, expanding the clinic to at least 300 students, and recruiting additional staff to ensure quality legal services.

There are also plans to expand the range of services offered, develop a Public Legal Education program, online services, a Business Law Clinic, partnerships with other organisations including those focusing on LGBTQ+ issues, and fostering relationships with local solicitors and legal firms to better serve vulnerable communities. The law clinic also proposes to collaborate with social work students to provide a holistic service to clients.

In the first term, Essex Law Clinic has already recruited around 80 students to work on developing the clinic. These students were divided into teams in order to work on specific tasks and a committee was elected in order to direct clinic governance and development. Already, these teams have made considerable strides in making the clinic more welcoming for both advisors and clients, making contacts with external agencies, community groups and lawyers, and putting into place procedures to cope with the scaling up of activities in preparation for the recruitment and training of new volunteers.

Despite being awarded an OBE in 2011 for his work, Donald maintains that previous clinic success has been due to the autonomy given to students, who are central to its management and service development. Consequently, he believes that law clinics play an important role in the personal and ethical development of its student members and we are excited for the new journey that his vision will bring for Essex Law Clinic.

Providing advice

Members of the public, students and University staff can use the Essex Law Clinic to get free initial advice about a legal problem they are facing. We offer clients an initial consultation to find out their legal position and advise them on what steps they can take to remedy the issues.

We operate by appointment and an initial assessment, which is made by the Clinic Manager, in order to find out whether we can help. Clients are then asked to attend an appointment and bring with them all relevant documentation relating to their legal issue.

All legal advice and assistance is given in the strictest confidence.

We can advise on the following issues:

  • landlord and tenant disputes
  • freehold and leasehold disputes
  • employment issues
  • consumer issues
  • equality issues
  • benefits advice
  • contracts
  • negligence

To book an appointment, please contact Essex Law Clinic directly on 01206 874429 or email

On this day

Keir Starmer QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions and now Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras, officially opened the Essex Law and Human Rights Clinics on 8 December 2016. In the video below Keir explains how our law clinics can make a difference to the legal profession.