Student family law clinic substitute for London legal aid

A pilot student law clinic designed to help London families needing legal advice on divorce, separation and child access will become a permanent fixture, helping to stem the fall out from the changes to legal aid.

The clinic started running in April, in response to London residents being unable to access legal advice due to legal aid cuts, which came into effect in the same month. It ran for two months between until June 2013 and tens of Londoners have already been advised by BPP students.

The clinic operates an initial telephone interview with families in need of legal advice, which is conducted by students. Students then meet with clients in a face-to-face capacity, accompanied by a supervising qualified lawyer.

BPP pro bono and legal advice clinic manager David Hansford said: “It’s good for the students to get experience on real legal cases. They have to come up with a practical letter of advice so they really develop their legal skills.

“We’ve had students drafting divorce papers. They are supervised by qualified solicitors but it gives them the chance to experience the realities of the profession they want to work in.”

He added: “We know this can’t replace legal aid and we’re not attempting to do that but it can offer legal advice to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access it.”