The BLAC family clinic

As a career-changer and recent law graduate I had a diverse CV but I required more legal work experience, writes Megan Attree. 

I was lucky enough to come across a scheme called the Brighton Leasehold Advice Clinic (BLAC).

BLAC is a scheme run by the University of Law, in conjunction with local solicitors, that offers free legal advice to those with any concerns over long leases (over 21 years).

My particular case concerned a client whose issues stemmed back over six years and she had painstakingly kept every piece of correspondence from that period.

Her thoroughness was commendable but my task was to digest the whole bundle, make sense of it and present the relevant facts in a concise form to a solicitor who had just rushed in from a full day’s work at a local law firm.

We had about five minutes to discuss the case before calling in the client and starting the meeting, whereupon I took full notes – scribbling furiously trying to keep up!

At the end of the meeting I clarified any detail I was unsure of to ensure that I had an accurate account.

After the meeting, I wrote the letter to the client, detailing all the facts discussed, together with the advice given by the volunteer solicitor.

At this point, I started to appreciate the skill involved in constructing a properly – drafted letter!

The client came in with one main area of concern and left with a whole different problem to deal with.

While she may not have been happy with the situation she found herself in, without the clinic she would have been completely in the dark.

As she had limited financial resources she would not otherwise have had access to the legal advice she needed and so the clinic helped clarify her situation and gave her choices of what to do next.

As well as the obvious employability-boosting benefits to my CV I got to take part in professional legal interviewing and develop my skills in formal legal writing. I am learning a lot on the Legal Practice Course but it is no substitute for seeing the real thing in practice.

The experience was especially relevant for me because I want to work in the local area and so the opportunity to develop contacts with local solicitors and getting a feel for how they work was a real plus.

But above all it helped me remember why I am still studying, often keeping too many plates spinning and not yet earning a decent salary: this is what I ultimately want to do and to get a buzz from helping someone with a legal problem is just the spur I need right now to keep going.

Megan Attree is an LPC student at the University of Law