The University of Exeter Community Law Clinic opened its doors this month. Created as a third year module it allows students and academics to work together to provide pro-bono work for the community. The programme, run by the Law department, aims to help vulnerable people who are missing out on legal services due to recent cuts to legal aid. Whilst this kind of work is popular in the USA, Exeter has become a pioneer as one of the the only universities to offer such community support as part of the course.
The first of the clinics to open was the Access to Justice Clinic, in which students run drop-in sessions for local people to get legal information on criminal justice, housing, benefits and employment law.
Due to the success of the Access to Justice Clinic over the next few months the Community Law Clinic will open its doors to a further four clinics. These are the Immigration Law Clinic, Environmental Law and ELF Exeter Clinic, Exeter ECF Clinic and Insurance Law Clinic.
Tia Matt J.D, overseer of the clinics, said: “Cuts to legal aid have left a huge gap in support for people going through the legal process in Devon. We cannot wait for legal aid to come back, likely it won’t. Launching these new clinics is a direct response to this situation, we want to help those that otherwise cannot get help.”
“They allow students to support people in their community and also develop their own skills and prepare for the world of work, and put into practice the knowledge they have learned. Law becomes real life rather than something only in a textbook.”
Open to support on any legal problem the Access to Justice Clinic is held in the Rougemont Room in Exeter Central Library, from 10:30 to 12:30pm on 8 and 22 November and 6 December.