Monday, 16 January 2017

UoB Law students making a difference in our community through CEPLER

Set up in 2008, the CEPLER’s Pro Bono Group at the University of Birmingham's Law School, has significantly grown with the input of staff and students. They operate on the basis of two main aims: Creating a service giving legal advice and aid to the wider community; Creating an opportunity for students to experience ‘real-life’ law practices and extend their learning. I spoke with Linden Thomas, a practising solicitor and staff member leading on the project.

From the beginning stages with the launch of the Street Law services to the establishment of the Birmingham Free Legal Advice Group (FLAG) in association with Mills and Reeve, No5 Chambers and Shakespeare Martineau, the Birmingham PBG offers Law students the opportunity to practice real life legal processes and gives those who cannot afford or are unable to easily access legal services an opportunity for justice. This is a great example of UoB students supporting our community through applying their subject knowledge!

The Street Law program brings law to the community. Its purpose is to provide legal education in the community. Students go out to communities, groups and organisations to educate them on their legal rights and responsibilities. It's a fantastic way to make an impact, benefiting real individuals, whilst gaining invaluable practical skills that supplement their curriculum based learning.

An example of community outreach was the Justice Day in June of last year at the University of Birmingham School. Students involved with the Street Law program took over the teaching of Year 7 for the day! They ran 6 sessions ranging from human rights negotiations with aliens that had invaded earth to a session on voting and democracy, and even a session where they put "The Big Bad Wolf" on trial! The Justice Day will be running again this year among other great student-led teaching with different year groups.

Developed from the success of various Street Law projects, Birmingham Free Legal Advice Group (FLAG) was set up to provide more "bespoke" legal advice for people in the community. Working in partnership with professional law firms in Birmingham, students can now experience real life legal cases and learn how to give advice to members of the community. Under the supervision of professional solicitors, Birmingham Law students provide letters of legal advice to people who use the service and this is a great way that our students are making an impact in our community and extending on their degree learnt skills.

The PBG continues to develop its projects and programs to suit the demands of those in the community, like the Criminal Appeals Assistance Unit and Environmental Law programs. Driven by both students and staff this group are doing some great things in our community and we look forward to hearing the results!

By Gideon Casey
Student PR Team member

Photo credits: CEPLER

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