The centres, based in London and Chester, are staffed by students and fully qualified solicitors, who offer members of the public free advice on issues ranging from employment rights and consumer credit to matrimonial disputes.
More than 300 students worked as Street Law clinic advisers during the last academic year, and the college hopes to encourage more than 1,000 students to get involved in pro bono work every year.
A third Street Law centre opened in Birmingham last November, and the college plans to open others in York and Guildford in the near future. Work is also underway with Simmons & Simmons and University College London to create an advice centre for UCL and its students, while the Chester branch is setting up a service for clients in County Court possession proceedings, in association with the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Professor Richard Grimes, director of pro bono services and clinical education at the college, said that learning through clinical legal education was a “win-win” situation. “Students become better lawyers,” he said. “They begin to see the importance of practical problem-solving and the professional responsibility of lawyers.
“The community stands to gain through a greater awareness of rights and responsibilities.”