Legal and free
Law students at King’s College London are making the leap from knowing the law to practising the law in a ground-breaking move that will also enable them to serve the university’s wider communities.
Recently launched by the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s Legal Clinic is a service offering free legal advice to the public from students studying law at King’s.
Supervised throughout by a qualified lawyer, students working at the King’s Legal Clinic interview clients, analyse their problem, research the issues and then send the clients written advice.
Working for the Legal Clinic is helping students gain a range of skills that differ from those they develop in lecture theatres and classrooms, while the experience of working on real-life problems is of critical value to their future employability. The students’ work can either be credited as part of their degree course or it is carried out as an extracurricular activity.
Because many of the cases students encounter will involve people at the sharp end of political and legal decisions, involvement in the King’s Legal Clinic requires them to think critically about how laws are made, who makes them, and what can be done where well-intentioned policy results in bad law.
The Legal Clinic has been able to draw on a network of London partners to help supervise the students. The initiative is working with law firms, barristers, advice agencies and community organisations across London, taking referrals and, in some instances, making them.
‘I enjoy how we have a practical, hands-on experience with clients and having the responsibility of figuring out the answers to their problems’.
Stephenie Ong, student participant
Jing Ru Gan, a student who took part in the clinic scheme said: ‘While drafting an advice letter, the need to present legal research in terms that were more accessible to the client was a challenge that I had to adjust myself to during my time at King’s Legal Clinic. However, it was a very rewarding experience, and being able to deal directly with the client was definitely one of the highlights for me.’
Another student participant, Stephenie Ong, credits the experience of working with real clients, adding: ‘I enjoy how we have a practical, hands-on experience with clients and having the responsibility of figuring out the answers to their problems. What I really love is also how we have open discussions with Stephen [Clinic Director] on the problems we were facing and what our opinions were on them. What I find most challenging is the stamina required to simplify and distil the information the client needs to know without making it sound technical.’
Find out more about the Legal Clinic here.