More than 2,000 students worked pro bono last year, says LawWorks

The number of LawWorks legal advice clinics has grown by a quarter in 2014-15, as demand for their services grows following cuts to legal aid and rising court fees.

The number of clinics has reached 219. Of these, nearly a third (32 per cent) are run by law schools, with students dealing with 11,000 enquiries from the public last year.

In total, there were 43,000 individual enquiries at clinics across the LawWorks network between April 2014 and March 2015 – a 55 per cent increase on the year before. 

Some 4,589 people volunteered across the network last year, of which 45.4 per cent, or 2,084, were students.

The most frequent jobs undertaken by student volunteers were taking notes (with 38 per cent of students doing this), undertaking an intake role (37 per cent), and providing advice (36 per cent).

The number of qualified lawyers volunteering rose by 119 per cent, with the number of legal executives and paralegals also rising.

Nearly all clinics reported an increase in demand for their services, with three-quarters seeing more complex legal matters arriving on their doorstep.

LawWorks chief executive Martin Baynes said: ”The volunteering of law students and the support of law schools deserves particular recognition – making a difference to local communities, but also providing valuable experience and learning for the lawyers of tomorrow, and potentially a commitment to pro bono which can last a lifetime.”

Meanwhile, a separate report released this week has showed the effect on the vulnerable caused by legal aid cuts. Sleepless nights: accessing justice without Legal Aid by Toynbee Hall and Middlesex University, found that 61 per cent of respondents considered free legal advice services as their main support to confide their worries in.

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