A VITAL legal service that has helped hundreds of people get free access to justice has been celebrated following a major expansion of its facilities.

For the last decade, the Law Clinic, based in Teesside University Law School, has offered free legal advice and support to people who might not ordinarily have been able to afford a lawyer.

The Clinic offers advice in a range of areas including family, property, contract and employment law, all areas of high demand following the removal of legal aid in 2012.

The service, which uses law students supported by qualified law lecturers and legal professionals from private practices, has now proven so successful it has more than tripled in size and the Law School has invested in more academic staff to help them with their cases.

The expanded offices also feature co-working spaces, private interview rooms and a board room to allow students and their clients all the features that they might expect to find within a professional legal practice.

At an industry celebration event, members of the legal community met with staff and students and learned about the impact the Law Clinic had made not just for its clients but also on the students who gained vital experience working on real cases.

The event also heard about the importance of legal campaigning from Ann Ming, mother of Julie Hogg, who told attendees about her pioneering campaign to overturn the double jeopardy law that resulted in the prosecution of her daughter’s killer in 2007.

The law clinic will be officially launched to students at the start of the new academic year.

Hannah Sellers, Director of Clinical Legal Education at Teesside University, said: “The Law Clinic is the manifestation and embodiment of Teesside University’s values and mission.

“It contributes to the economic, social and cultural success of our students and the community we serve.

“Access to justice is getting more and more difficult and the cost-of-living pressures faced by our community mean a clinic such as this is as vital as ever.

“It also provides an opportunity for our students to develop skills which enable them to flourish in the workplace.”

Professor Paul Crawshaw, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law, said: “The Law Clinic has continued to go from strength to strength.

“Here at Teesside University, we’re very proud that many of our students are from the local area and often the first members of their families to go to university.

“As a result, many of them wouldn’t ordinarily have the networks or social capital to find their way into competitive areas like law.

“This is why the Law Clinic is so important, it gives them the chance to engage with legal professionals for the benefit of everybody.”

Molly Broderick, one of the law students who worked in the Law Clinic, added: “Three weeks into my work on the Law Clinic I had an interview for a training contract with a law firm.

“The experience I got from working here was vital in helping me get that and will be vital when I start the contract.”

For more information on the Law Clinic visit: https://www.tees.ac.uk/schools/ssshl/lawschool/law_clinic.cfm.

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