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Students find new ways to offer free legal advice

  • Date

    Thu 21 May 20

Student discussing in library

Essex law students have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by moving their free legal advice service online.

With face-to-face consultations currently impractical, Essex Law Clinic has moved its services online, allowing people across Essex to continue to access the free legal advice it provides.

Essex Law Clinic provides students in the School of Law with the chance to work alongside practising lawyers advising real clients. With the move online, students have had to adjust to interviewing clients using Zoom. This new approach appears to be working well.

Emma Newton, Student Advisor, said: “I personally found the use of Zoom very positive and felt that it worked well for both the client and those interviewing. The client was at ease but could also still obtain the information they needed.”

Flavia-Maria Manda, Student Advisor, said: “While the services provided were of the same high standard as in ordinary circumstances, the process was more relaxed. From the perspective of the client, being in a familiar setting rather than sitting directly in front of the advisers felt more convenient, helping them to be more open to building rapport and revealing information.”

Essex Law Clinic provides advice in the areas of family, housing, employment and consumer law, and in relation to benefits and wills. Over the last three years, it has developed from a small course-based clinic to one with almost 200 students, who play an active role in clinic management.

Professor Donald Nicolson, the Law Clinic's Director, said: “During this difficult time, we have worked hard to ensure that our systems and processes are as effective online as they are in person, on campus, or in the community in our outreach programmes. We remain determined to ensure our clients are still able to access high quality legal advice from our excellent volunteers in the Law Clinic.”

If you want to request free legal advice from Essex Law Clinic, the first step is to email elawclinic@essex.ac.uk. You will receive an automatic reply explaining how the Clinic’s services operate. To book an appointment, return the form attached to this automatic reply email. A member of the Clinic will then contact you.